Estonia took delivery on 7 October of 12 second-hand CV9035NL armoured combat vehicles and one Leopard 1 recovery vehicle, manufactured respectively by Sweden’s BAE Systems Hagglünds and Germany’s Krauss-Maffei Wegmann. These are the first deliveries of a €113M contract signed with the Netherlands in December 2014 for the delivery of a total of 44 CV9035NLs and six recovery vehicles, all second-hand. According to the terms of this record contract for the Estonian armed forces, the remaining 37 vehicles will be delivered between now and 2018.
Although the Dutch CV9035NLs are practically new — they were delivered between 2008 and 2011 — the budgetary cuts imposed by Amsterdam led to the controversial sale project in September 2013. But today, faced with the sharpened tone of the relationship between NATO and Russia, the Netherlands is thinking about procuring more Bushmaster vehicles from Thales to compensate for the “loss” of these CV9035NLs.
The 44 vehicles sold to Estonia will nevertheless undergo a complete revision and a few improvements in order to keep them operational for the next 20 years. They will, for example, be equipped with a new Racal Acoustics RA7000 intercom system to allow the crew to communicate with disembarked troops. Eight Estonian military personnel will soon start a first technical and practical training course in the Netherlands in parallel to the continuation of the deliveries.
In January 2016, Estonia also acquired 35 Norwegian CV9030N chassis for €600,000. In service in the Royal Norwegian Army between 1996 and 2000, these chassis will be transformed by Estonia into technical and logistical support vehicles. All the vehicles bought by Tallinn will be deployed with the reconnaissance battalion of the Estonian Army’s 1st Infantry Brigade in Tapa, northern Estonia.
BAE Hagglünds designed and made over 1,000 CV90s which are in active service in Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland. The vehicle was widely used in Afghanistan by the Norwegian army and in Liberia by the Swedish one. Able to transport up to seven soldiers, the Estonian CV90 is armed with US company Orbital ATK’s 35mm Bushmaster III gun.
Military cooperation between Estonia and the Netherlands is not new: starting in 2004 Tallinn has bought over 1,000 light tactical vehicles, trailers and containers as well as 81 second-hand Dutch Sisu XA-188 troop transport vehicles. The Estonian army has also undertaken an ambitious programme to procure new equipment, notably in the air defence field, with the €23.8 M procurement of MBDA’s Mistral M3.