Estonian, Finnish defense chiefs discuss artillery procurement

K9 Thunder howitzers.
K9 Thunder howitzers. Source: South Korean Armed Forces

Gen. Riho Terras and Gen. Jarmo Lindberg, the commanders of the defense forces of Estonia and Finland, discussed cooperation between the two countries on Wednesday, focusing on the K9 self-propelled artillery procurement.

Terras told BNS that the possible procurement and cooperation related to it were the central topics at his meeting with Gen. Lindberg.

Finland recently signed an agreement on the purchase of K9 self-propelled artillery. Estonia, meanwhile, has signed a letter of intent with South Korea that lays the groundwork for initiating negotiations on the procurement of the howitzers, Terras said.

Norway is likewise interested in these weapons.

"We found that if Norway also decides to adopt K9 self-propelled artillery into its weaponry, a group of users of that weapons system will emerge in our region," the Estonian defense chief noted. "This would enable us to conduct training together, for instance, and to work together to reduce the life cycle costs of the weapons system."

Terras said that while maintenance of the self-propelled artillery could also be done together, Estonia wishes to keep a part of maintenance operations in Estonia.

Other topics discussed by the two defense forces commanders included the Baltic Defence College and cooperation of the two countries within the framework of the UNIFIL peacekeeping mission in Lebanon.

Terras and the head of South Korea's military procurement agency signed a memorandom of understand in Seoul in February which laid the groundwork for negotiations to procure South Korean-made K9 Thunder self-propelled 155 mm howitzers.

The self-propelled artillery will replace the towable 155 mm howitzers currently used by the Artillery Battalion of Estonia's 1st Infantry Brigade. Estonia plans to purchase at least 12 units of such howitzers from South Korea.

The K9 Thunder is manufactured by South Korean defense contrator Hanwha Techwin; its serial production began in 1999. With a weight of 47 tons, the gun can develop a speed of upto 65 kilometers per hour and its maximum range of fire is 40 kilometers. The howitzer is operated by a crew of five.

According to current plans, the howitzers would be delivered in 2021.

Editor: Aili Vahtla

Source: BNS

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