Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defence for Europe and NATO Jim Townsend, and Estonian Ambassador to the United States Eerik Marmei, signed an agreement on defence related research and development on June 23rd.
The concluded agreement gives Estonia the opportunity to communicate directly with US agencies engaged in defence related development. Under the agreement it will be possible to include research and development institutions as well as defence industry companies in the cooperation. The defence sectors of the two countries are now able to cooperate directly in, among other things, the fields of research, product development, testing and evaluation, creating joint working groups, etc.
Minister of Defence Hannes Hanso said that by concluding this agreement Estonia’s defence industry is moving into a new era. “This type of cooperation means entry into a very elite club, since the US has concluded similar agreements with only 23 countries,” said Hanso.
According to Kusti Salm, Director of the Defence Industry and Innovation Department at the Ministry of Defence, the process of concluding the research and development agreement initially began through cooperation with the US Air Force Research Laboratory (USAFRL), although the agreement covers all US armed forces research and development centres.
“Most importantly, the agreement creates the opportunity for Estonian defence industry companies and universities involved in defence related research to cooperate with the United States. You could literally say that such opportunities are unlimited – there is no defence related field in which the US military is not involved," said Salm.
Today, the biggest public universities in Estonia and dozens of Estonia defence industry companies, in particular Cybernetica, Milrem, Guardtime and Skeleton Technologies, are actively searching for cooperation opportunities on the US market.
The United States Department of Defence has the biggest defence related research and development budget in the world. In 2015, the US Department of Defence invested USD 63 billion in defence related research and development, testing and technology evaluation.