Estonian planning new self-propelled artillery acquisition by end of decade

K9 Thunder self-propelled howitzer in Estonian service (photo is illustrative).
K9 Thunder self-propelled howitzer in Estonian service (photo is illustrative). Source:

The state is conducting its preliminary market research into the potential acquisition of more self-propelled artillery pieces, to complement the South Korean-made K9 "Thunder" purchases which have been ongoing in recent years.

The planned new self-propelled artillery would form the core of a third Estonian Defense Forces (EDF) artillery battery.

Modern self-propelled artillery covers quite a wide-range of equipment, both tracked vehicles such as the K9, a howitzer, whose profile can, like other armored, tracked vehicles cause the casual observer to confuse them with tanks, and truck-mounted systems such as the Swedish-made Archer.

The planned acquisition is likely to involve a truck-mounted type of system.

Tiina Uudeberg, Ministry of Defense undersecretary for defense planning, said: "They are included in our 10-year development plan, but we are likely waiting until 2028 [to take delivery]; perhaps a little longer."

"We updated the military defense part of our 10-year development plan only in the spring, partly due to the events in Ukraine. And the third artillery battalion was one of the clear wishes of the head of the defense forces," Uudeberg went on.

The Center for Defense Investments (RKIK) is evaluating various producers' weapons systems in its pre-purchase research; in the current market situation, delivery time is at least two years for systems which range in price from €4 million to €10 million per unit, AK reported.

Ramil Lipp, armaments category manager at the RKIK, told AK that: "We have made contact with some manufacturers and have seen some examples at trade fairs. This includes European manufacturers – French, Swedish, Czech and Slovak, as well as in Turkey; further afield, India also produces a similar product."

Self-propelled artillery has a "shoot-and-scoot" capability meaning it is much faster to press into action than are towed artillery pieces, and rapidly can fire, move, and then fire again - a tactic which ERR recently on from Ukraine early on this year.

At the same time, towed artillery is cheaper to purchase and to maintain.

A newly-created third artillery battery would be formed utilizing the new artillery pieces once purchased, under current plans. This unit would constitute a divisional asset, under the command of a division which will include a British Army armored brigade, mostly outside of Estonia and at high readiness, as well as the two EDF infantry brigades.

As of February this year, 18 K9 Thunders were reportedly in-country, with six more still to arrive.

Experts consider the ammunition, fire control and target detection systems to be the most important elements of any modern artillery system, AK reported.

The AK report included footage of Archer, as well as of other artillery systems in-use in Ukraine, and is here.

Editor: Andrew Whyte, Marko Tooming

Source: 'Aktuaalne kaamera,' reporter Vahur Lauri.

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