South Korean-made K9 Thunder Self-propelled (SP) howitzers procured by Estonia from 2018 have been fully tried out this week, for the first time since being acquired.
Commander of the Estonian Defense Forces (EDF) artillery battalion commander Lt. Col. Marko Tomentšuk said that the K9 had: "Taken its full development test today with the artillery battalion instructors, and passed with flying colors," after a day on the ranges at the EDF's central polygon training area.
Lt. Col. Tomentšuk added that a K9 training team is in the process of being put together, with a view to instructing conscripts from as early as this fall. Staff had already undergone training in South Korea last year.
The K9 is a 155 mm howitzer which entered service in South Korea in 1999, and which was actually used in anger in 2010 during a standoff between South Korean troops based on Yeonpyeongdo island, and the military of North Korea.
It has a maximum firing range around 40 km, and its 750 kw-rated engine delivers a maximum speed of a littler under 70 km/h, while its all-welded steel armor construction can reportedly withstand armor piercing rounds, shrapnel, anti-personnel mines and other blasts.
The K9 has a life-span estimated at 45 years as of the present, meaning the units acquired by the EDF can be expected to be in service for another 30 years. Other operators include Finland, Turkey and Australia.
A video of the K9 firing (with comment in Estonian) is below.
The procurement and acquisition ties in with Ministry of Defense doctrine for the next few years, which will include a focus on developing EDF artillery capabilities, in addition to fully mechanizing both the EDF's infantry brigades, and setting up coastal defense systems which will include missile systems and sea mines.
In addition to the K9 system, a state-of-the-art fire command support system, called "Tooru", was also successfully trialed this week, the EDF says. The system when deployed will significantly speed up command times on artillery fire orders.
Editor: Andrew Whyte