The Estonian Center for Defense Investment (RKIK) has signed a contract for the procurement of an additional twelve K9 Thunder self-propelled howitzers from South Korean arms manufacturer Hanwha Techwin. The total value of the contract is approximately €36 million.
Estonian Minister of Defense Hanno Pevkur (Reform) said, that the new units will be used to equip both of Estonia's infantry brigades.
Estonia previously signed a contract for the delivery of 24 of the self-propelled artillery units from South Korea, however, an additional 12 units are now also set to arrive. The final delivery is scheduled for 2026.
"We are working towards the deliveries arriving earlier, so that we can receive the self-propelled howitzers before 2026," said RKIK armored equipment category manager Karmo Saar.
In-depth training for EDF personnel on the use of the K9 Thunder began in September 2020 in South Korea. The EDF now has its own instructors, under whose supervision, training of the first groups of reservists has taken place.
According to the RKIK, the K9 Thunder self-propelled howitzer has a high penetration capacity and is fully tracked, with a good level of armored protection and high fire power. The lifespan of the weapons system is 45 years, meaning the Estonian forces will be able to continue using them for at least the next three decades.
The first K9 Thunder self-propelled howitzers arrived in Estonia in 2020.
In 2021, the RKIK signed a framework agreement with Go Craft for the modification and reconstruction of 24 self-propelled artillery units, which, was described by the center as a natural part of the process of integrating them with the Estonian Defense Force's (EDF) systems.
The work due to be carried out includes the installation of communication and control systems, painting, replacement of the fire extinguishing system, adaptation of the electrical system as well as the installation of additional accessories.
To date, Go Craft, alongside the EDF and K9 manufacturer Hanwha Defense, has developed two prototypes of the self-propelled artillery units, which have also successfully completed a test period with the EDF.
Last year, Go Craft also opened Estonia's first privately-owned military weapons repair and production facility, which meets all the requirements of the Weapons Act, and where the immediate reconstruction of CV90 combat vehicles and K9 self-propelled howitzers can begin.
In addition to Estonia, Norway, Finland and Poland are also in the process of procuring additional self-propelled artillery units.
Editor: Michael Cole