Business News

Ukraine conflict ups demand for pre-fab bomb shelters

An Estonian company that makes mobile bomb shelters for military and civilian customers says the war in Ukraine has created a spike in demand for its products.

Terramil began designing a lightweight plastic bomb shelter before the Ukrainian conflict began, but recent events have increased interest in its products, and the company has signed a contract with the NATO alliance for the shelters. (Tweet This)

"We see the most action, of course, here, where we are, and in addition to that we are dealing on (an) every-day basis with United Arab Emirates, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Bahrain, India and African countries," said Peeter Kirtsi, chief executive of Terramil's privately held parent company, Krah Pipes.

Kirtsi told CNBC that he could not disclose exact sales figures or details of its contract with NATO, citing concerns about disclosure rules.

Since fighting began between the Ukrainian army and pro-Russian rebels last year, 1.3 million people have been displaced, and 867,000 Ukrainians have left the country, according to data cited Thursday by The New York Times. Baltic nations such as Estonia have expressed rising concern about increasingly provocative Russian military activity in their region, as well.

Military personnel inspect segments from a Terramil bomb shelter.
Source: Terramil | Krah Pipes

Despite being plastic, a fully buried shelter from Terramil can withstand the blast of a 150-millimeter shell, according to the company. That's roughly the size of the ammunition fired by common heavy artillery weapons such as howitzers.

The company also says the structures can withstand temperatures from minus 58 degrees to 176 degrees. Customers can also install toilets, air filters for ventilation, generators and other features that can allow them to survive in the shelter for extended periods of time.

A gun mount on display in a Terramil bomb shelter.
Source: Terramil | Krah Pipes

Each tube-shaped unit can accommodate up to 12 people, and the shelters are modular, so sections can be added to make larger structures. The time it takes a large digger to clear a ditch for the unit, drop the shelter in place, and then cover it over with dirt is about an hour and a half, according to the company.

The bomb shelters grew out of concepts that were being developed by Terramil's parent company, which specializes in manufacturing pipes for civilian uses. Kirtsi said the decision was made to found Terramil following demand from military customers.

Terramil makes other products for military use, including mobile morgues and gun turrets, pictured below.

A turret from a Terramil Bomb Shelter.
Source: Terramil | Krah Pipes