K9 self-propelled howitzers admitted into Estonian defense forces

South Korean-made K9 self-propelled howitzer being tested in Estonia.
South Korean-made K9 self-propelled howitzer being tested in Estonia. Source: Janvar Pitelkov/ Ministry of Defense

On Friday, the Defense Forces presented the K9 Thunder self-propelled howitzers purchased from South Korea in Tapa, Lääne-Viru County.

In August, the first two units of K9 Thunder self-propelled howitzers arrived in Estonia from South Korea and will and will now be used by the Artillery Battalion of the 1st Infantry Brigade after modification, the Ministry of Defense (Kaitsevägi) said on Friday.

Minister of Defense Juri Luik (Isamaa) said the K9s are a good example of the complexity of the actual development of a capability and what it entails.

"The process that started two years ago has reached the stage by now where we can begin the technical adaptation of the howitzers in order for them to completely meet our needs. This is one of the most important weapons procurements of the defense forces in recent years that is aimed at strengthening foremost the remote fire capability," Luik said.

Over a period of three years, 18 units of K9 in total are to be delivered to Estonia and cost €83 million.

The howitzers will be painted in the camouflage colors of the Estonian defense forces, equipped with the standard communications equipment and other auxiliary equipment used in the Estonian defense forces.

Afterwards the howitzers will become part of the weaponry of the Artillery Battalion of the 1st Infantry Brigade, which will be transformed into a self-propelled artillery battalion. 

 Lt. Col. Kaarel Maesalu, the project manager responsible for the acquisition of self-propelled artillery at the Estonian defense forces, said the K9s should replace the 155 mm howitzers of the Artillery Battalion of the 1st Infantry Brigade.

The life cycle of the self-propelled howitzers is 45 years, which means that the Estonian defense forces can use the weapon systems at least for 30 years.

In addition to Estonia, K9 self-propelled howitzers are in use in the defense forces of South Korea, Turkey, India, Finland, Norway and Australia. Poland has developed a 155 mm artillery  system called KRAB on the chassis of the K9.


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Editor: Helen Wright

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