Estonia’s Drone Warfare Revolution: Thrifty Innovations and Battle-Tested Tactics

Estonia, a small Baltic nation with a population of just 1.3 million, is rapidly becoming a hotbed for drone warfare innovation. With a keen eye on 's use of drones, Estonians are fielding new kit, changing doctrine, and revamping training for unmanned systems to prepare for a potential Russian invasion, reports Defense One. Remarkably, Estonia is doing so in a highly cost-effective manner, working to field systems often orders of magnitude cheaper than similar U.S. systems.

Aivar Hanniotti: Estonia's Drone Mastermind

At the forefront of Estonia's drone efforts is Aivar Hanniotti, the military's point man for everything related to and development. Hanniotti, a member of Estonia's Defense League (a part-time volunteer organization serving as a military auxiliary force), is working on a long list of updates to Estonia's drone and counter-drone tools.

Angry Hedgehog: Estonia's Answer to Ukraine's FPV Drones

One of the projects linked to Ukraine is the “Angry Hedgehog,” a plan to field a domestically produced short-range loitering munition similar to Ukraine's first-person-view drones. With a custom warhead, a range of up to 9 miles (14.5 km), and AI guidance for the last mile, the drone will cost under €1,000 ($1,080), a fraction of the price of similar U.S. systems like the $94,000 Rogue One.

Innovative and Cost-Effective Solutions

Other projects include an Estonian-made hand-held drone detection system, which Hanniotti aims to field to every squad starting next year, and a concept for a cheap anti-drone missile with a theoretical price of €2,000 ($2,160), one-tenth the cost of the APKWS, one of the cheapest U.S. anti-drone missiles.

As Hanniotti reportedly explains, “In the Defense League, we are used to getting by with small funding. We are all motivated—and we would like to have fast results.”

Adapting Tactics and Training for the Drone Age

New technology brings new questions, from tactics to unit organization. Estonian infantry squads are experimenting with drone operators who scout ahead for hidden enemies, while the army tests how to use drones to support artillery. Estonia also plans to launch a drone training center this year, which will double as a test range for new electronic warfare technologies.

DroneXL's Take

Estonia's innovative approach to drone warfare is a testament to the power of necessity and resourcefulness. By focusing on cost-effective, “good enough” solutions and leveraging the expertise of its Defense League, Estonia is rapidly adapting to the realities of modern warfare. While U.S. efforts often parallel Estonia's, the Baltic nation's quasi-civilian approach allows for faster, more agile development. As the drone revolution continues to reshape the battlefield, Estonia's thrifty innovations and battle-tested tactics may well serve as a model for other nations looking to stay ahead of the curve.

Discover more from DroneXL

Subscribe to get the latest posts sent to your email.


Proposed legislation threatens your ability to use drones for fun, work, and safety. The Drone Advocacy Alliance is fighting to ensure your voice is heard in these critical policy discussions.Join us and tell your elected officials to protect your right to fly.

Drone Advocacy Alliance
Follow us on Google News!

Get your Part 107 Certificate

Pass the test and take to the skies with the Pilot Institute. We have helped thousands of people become airplane and commercial drone pilots. Our courses are designed by industry experts to help you pass FAA tests and achieve your dreams.

pilot institute dronexl

Copyright © 2024. All rights reserved. The content, images, and intellectual property on this website are protected by copyright law. Reproduction or distribution of any material without prior written permission from is strictly prohibited. For permissions and inquiries, please contact us first.

FTC: is an Amazon Associate and uses affiliate links that can generate income from qualifying purchases. We do not sell, share, rent out, or spam your email.

Haye Kesteloo
Haye Kesteloo

Haye Kesteloo is the Editor in Chief and Founder of, where he covers all drone-related news, DJI rumors and writes drone reviews, and, for all news related to electric vehicles. He is also a co-host of the PiXL Drone Show on YouTube and other podcast platforms. Haye can be reached at haye @ or @hayekesteloo.

Articles: 3752

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.