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Estonian defense chief initiates howitzer procurement process in Seoul

Chief of the Estonian Defence Forces Lt. Gen. Riho Terras and Minister of South Korea's Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) Lee Young-geol signed a memorandum of understanding in Seoul on Monday which will lay the groundwork for beginning contract negotiations in the procurement of South Korean-built 155 mm K9 Thunder self-propelled howitzers.

"For the Estonian Defence Forces (EDF), it is first and foremost important that the procured weapon system complement our existing weaponry and strengthen our indirect fire capacity," said Terras, according to whom it is important to understand that Monday's agreement was one part of a longer process which would lay the groundwork for the procurement of self-propelled guns.

"This is one of the most important defense procurements in recent years and we are considering all conditions very thoroughly," he added.

The self-propelled guns to be purchased through the procurement will replace the towable 155 mm howitzers currently in use by the Artillery Battalion of the 1st Infantry Brigade.

Estonia intends to purchase from South Korea at least 12 K9 Thunder howitzers which will improve setup time as well as maneuverability. Due to the simplicity of the weapon system, the training of K9 Thunder howitzer crews takes little time, making it suitable for conscripts and reservists with limited training cycles.

On Tuesday, Terras will meet with South Korean counterpart Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Lee Soon-jin in order to discuss issues related to defense cooperation and cyber defense.

The Estonian defense chief is accompanied on his three-day trip to South Korea by a delegation from the Estonian Defence Industry Association (EDIA). Also on the agenda during the visit is a meeting with the leadership of weapon system manufacturer Hanwha Techwin as well as a visit to production vfacilities in Changwon.

Editor: Editor: Aili Vahtla

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