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Estonia begins K9 artillery negotiations with South Korea

08 February 2017
Estonia has signed an MOU with South Korea to begin negotiations to buy 12 K9 Thunder self-propelled howitzers. Source: IHS Markit/P Felstead

Estonia is planning to buy K9 Thunder 155 mm self-propelled howitzers (SPHs) from South Korea, with the two countries signing a memorandum of understanding to begin procurement negotiations on 6 February.

The move is linked to a proposed purchase of the Hanwha Techwin K9 by Finland.

Speaking to Jane's on 7 February, a spokesperson for the Estonia Ministry of Defence said, "Estonia is planning to purchase 12 used 155 mm self-propelled howitzers K9 Thunder. The K9s will eventually replace the FH-70 [towed howitzers] that are currently being used in our 1st Infantry Brigade. We are aiming to sign the contract already this year and first K9s should be delivered in 2021."

The move is linked to Finland's interest in the system, pictured here during trials in Finland in November 2016. (P Felstead/IHS Markit)The move is linked to Finland's interest in the system, pictured here during trials in Finland in November 2016. (P Felstead/IHS Markit)

"According to the K9 technical parameters, performance, usability, and previously conducted field tests (Norway, Finland) the modern weapon system suits our plans to develop the EDF mobile and far-ranging covering fire capability. The procurement of self-propelled howitzers is the next step in developing the Estonian Defence Forces heavy armoured manoeuvre capability," the MoD spokesperson added.

While the eventual procurement will not be conducted jointly with Finland, the two countries are working closely together on the purchase. Finland is currently in the middle of evaluating the K9, and has been conducting winter trials of the system since late 2016. While Finnish sources state the country has yet to make a final decision on the purchase, they note that they have been helping Estonia with its planning and procurement preparations.

The Estonian MoD spokesperson added that apart from co-operating on the purchase itself that, "There is potential to share the supply and logistical support capabilities with Finland."

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