Transitions Online January 13, 2014
Alarmed by a Russian arms buildup, the Estonian military is turning to drones to boost its surveillance capabilities, Estonian Public Broadcasting (ERR) reports.
Defense Forces Commander-in-Chief Major General Riho Terras told the Eesti Päevaleht newspaper that Estonia needs ways to more quickly find out what is happening when conflict looms, according to ERR.
“Since we are surrounded on all sides by allies against Russia, then Russia is the place where the processes taking place should be monitored particularly closely,” Terras told Eesti Päevaleht.
The general cited Russia’s increasing militarization and stepped-up military exercises. In the fall, Russian and Belarusian forces practiced maneuvers in Belarus, across the border from the Baltic states of Latvia and Lithuania. Shortly afterward, NATO forces conducted exercises in Latvia and Poland.
Terras said a "blind" nation "could not be defended," according to ERR.
Eesti Päevaleht said Estonia, a member of NATO, will purchase U.S.-built Global Hawk unmanned surveillance aircraft.
The Estonian army has used hand-held Raven aerial drones for reconnaissance purposes in Afghanistan since 2009.
Estonia adds surveillance drones to its military mix