On the Frontline

Estonia’s defence minister Kalle Laanet gave the opening speech at Tangent Link’s recent EW Live event in Tartu, southern Estonia.
Estonia’s defence minister Kalle Laanet gave the opening speech at Tangent Link’s recent EW Live event in Tartu, southern Estonia.

Amid the apparatus, antennas and drones at the year’s EW Live exhibition in Tartu, southern Estonia, delegates enjoyed a speech from the country’s defence minister.

Tangent Link’s EW Live exhibition kicked off with an address from Kalle Laanet, Estonia’s minister of defence. The country is no stranger to operations in the electromagnetic spectrum. In 2007 she suffered a major cyber attack on blamed on the Russian government. Since then, successive Estonian governments have ploughed investment into cyber protection. The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) established its Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence in Estonia one year later. In 2009 work began on the Tallinn Manual on the International Law Applicable to Cyber Warfare. This provides a legal template of international law relevant to the cyber domain. At the operational level, nearby Russian Army units would be harnessed against Estonian forces in wartime. For example, the 146th Electronic Warfare Brigade is located due east of Estonia in the vicinity of St. Petersburg, northwest Russia.

Mr. Laanet’s speech highlighted the country as “the right place to present innovative solutions in the areas of electronic warfare.” He also emphasised Estonia’s embrace and development of cutting-edge technologies. This is illustrated by the country’s impressive levels of digital connectivity seen in many aspects of civilian and military life.

Drone Threats

Azerbaijan’s conflict with Armenia in 2020 witnessed significant use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs). Delegates were treated to a demonstration of counter-UAV technology on 28th September immediately prior to the exhibition. Mr. Laanet’s speech warned that “drones are increasingly sophisticated and capable in all physical environments.” He continued that electronic warfare has a key role to play in helping defend against UAVs.

Spectrum Supremacy

Mindful of the regional situation vis-à-vis Russia and Belarus, Mr Laanet warned that “the security situation in the Baltic and Nordic region has deteriorated considerably” since 2014. The ongoing militarisation of both countries continues to stoke regional tensions. The need for NATO to achieve and hold electromagnetic spectrum superiority and supremacy in future conflicts is paramount: “The electromagnetic environment has risen from the shadows in recent years, and now stands at the forefront across all military domains,” he concluded.

by Dr. Thomas Withington