The Estonian Defense Forces (EDF) have taken delivery of the first fully "Estonianized", South Korean-made K9 Thunder Self-propelled howitzer, ETV news show "Aktuaalne kaamera" reported Wednesday.
A private sector firm is in the process of fitting the artillery pieces out to suit Estonian conditions, at a reported cost of around €4 million.
Estonian company Go Craft, which services and maintains military and heavy-duty vehicles, provided the upgrades.
Capt. Kaspar Põder, EDF artillery battalion commander, told AK that: "We 'Estonianized' it a little, with additional features particular to the Estonian climate and, of course, Estonian text on the interior labeling."
"My unit will start exercises with these same pieces from as early as the start of April," he added.
Go Craft CEO Kalvi Pukka told AK that: "These machines are being fitted out with fire extinguishing systems, new communications and control systems and equipment, as well as upgrades to electrical system. To express our work in terms of volume: The vehicles will travel about a tonne heavier than before."
A standard factory-made, combat-ready K9 weighs close to 50 tonnes.
Fresh paint in EDF color schemes is another detail being applied (see gallery above) to the K9s, dubbed "Kõu" ("Thunder") in Estonian.
All 18 K9s currently in-country, plus the six more due to arrive from the most recent procurement, will receive the same treatment.
The K9 Thunder 155 mm self-propelled howitzer entered into service in the late 1990s. Other users include the militaries of Finland, Turkey and Poland.
Editor: Andrew Whyte, Merili Nael
Source: Aktuaalne kaamera