ESTTACS- Estonian Tactical Communication System

It is the task of the Ministry of Defence to plan and organise IT and telecommunications procurements within its governance area and, if appropriate, conduct supervision of the proceedings linked to the life cycle of the acquired equipment.

The most important projects in process are the development of an air defence system and acquisition of new 3D radars in co-operation with Finland. The modernisation of communication solutions and systems of the defence forces is carried out on a current basis; also, the modernisation and digitisation of the information systems of the defence forces is a priority.

ESTTACS – Estonian Tactical Communication Systems

Establishment of modern and integrated communication capabilities is one of the priorities for the development of the defence forces. The central programme is currently the up-building of a tactical communication system of the Estonian Defence Forces and Infantry Brigade, the ESTTACS (Estonian Tactical Communication System).

The objective is to establish a common communication and information system for ensuring the Defence Forces with all the modern communication opportunities, including voice, radio and data communication and their compatibility with NATO’s structures.

ESTTACS represents a network of communication nodes with high transmittance and processing performance, which will be used to merge the communication systems of staffs, battalions and other units into a uniform and diversified network. The required modern communication equipment will be bought from companies including Selex Communications (Italy), Draca Comteq (Finland), AS Telegrupp.

The development of the system has taken place, in stages, since 2005. The solution was successfully tested, to a limited scale, in spring 2007 during the “Spring Storm” training. The construction of an information and communication technology training and development centre of the Defence Forces and furnishing the training laboratories is taking place at the same time. The communication capabilities of the Defence Forces will receive a new qualitative level by the implementation of ESTTACS. The whole system should be applicable in the Defence Forces by 2013.

Development of Air Defence Capabilities

Control over airspace is one of the main, yet most expensive, national defence objectives of any country. The efficiency of other army services and types of warfare is largely dependant on this capability. Estonia has established air surveillance system, which is one of the most important parts of air defence, and continues to develop this system by acquiring additional equipment under radar procurement. The achievement of modern air defence capabilities – second column of air defence – has also been launched. The contemporary short range air defence warfare will be acquired for the air defence division for that purpose.

With the resolution of the Government of the Republic of November 2006, the Ministry of Defence was required to enter into negotiations with the best tenderers – MBDA France and SAAB Microwave Systems. The contract was signed in February 2007. The air defence system to be delivered will include all the required components for short-range defence purposes, including the Mistral missiles and their firing equipment, radars, training, and other necessary elements.
The acquired air defence system is merged into an integrated system with modern communication features. As modern air defence requires extremely close co-operation and co-ordination between the Air Forces and the Army, such a system shall allow for the direct exchange of information required for air defence purposes with NATO fighters reconnaissance aircrafts and staffs.

Joint 3D radar procurement with Finland

As a result of the joint procurement process of Estonia and Finland, a successful tenderer was chosen – the French company Thales-Raytheon Systems Company S.A.S. Estonia and Finland plan to purchase, in total, 14 Ground Master 403 within the framework of the procurement; two radars will be located in Estonia. These radars are meant to supplement the only three-dimensional long distance radar in Estonia to date, in Kellavere, Lääne-Virumaa, which will then provide a sufficient air surveillance picture of both the western and south-eastern part of Estonia.

The price of one radar will be approximately 11.3 million Euros, which will be settled in accordance with a flexible payment schedule during 2009-2014.

The purchased Thales-Raytheon Systems Ground Master 403 radars shall allow for the detection of aircraft at the maximum distance of 470 kilometres and maximum height of 30 kilometres. These are mobile systems, which means that if necessary, the radar can be relocated within an hour and made operable again in a new location.

Apart from the two primary radars, the procurement shall also include secondary radars, generators required to operate the radars, vehicles, training, and radomes (domes, which the radars will cover in a stationary position).

According to the procurement contract to be concluded, Thales-Raytheon Systems is required to make a counter purchase from Estonian companies, the value of the purchase being equivalent to the procurement contract value. The spheres of research and development activities, strategic goods, state of art (high-tech) goods are preferred for the purposes of counter purchases. The export of goods and services, investments into research and development co-operation, technology transfers, and marketing assistance are the permissible forms of counter purchase transactions.