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Land Platforms

Baltic states boost artillery capabilities

21 February 2018
When deployed, the ex-German Army 155 mm/52 calibre SP PzH 2000 artillery systems will provide Lithuania with a significantly improved indirect fire capability. Source: Lithuania Land Force

The defence forces of Estonia and Lithuania are upgrading the indirect fire capability of their land elements, military officials from both Baltic countries highlighted at the IQPC Future Indirect Fires Eastern Europe Conference held in Bucharest, Romania.

The Estonian Land Forces maintains two infantry brigades, with one artillery battalion attached to each unit. These battalions are currently equipped with towed weapons.The Korean-made 155 mm/52 calibre K9 Thunder self-propelled artillery system seen during trials in Finland. Finland has ordered 48 systems. (IHS Markit/Peter Felstead)The Korean-made 155 mm/52 calibre K9 Thunder self-propelled artillery system seen during trials in Finland. Finland has ordered 48 systems. (IHS Markit/Peter Felstead)

The first infantry brigade operates 24 155 mm/39 calibre FH-70A1 field howitzers supplied by Germany from 2003, while the second infantry brigade has 18 Russian 122 mm D-30 guns supplied by Finland and originally designated H-63 in Finnish Army service.

The artillery battalions also operate 120 mm M41/D mortars supplied by Sweden as well as US supplied 81 mm M252 mortars.

Estonia is expected to acquire 24 ex-Republic of Korea Army (RoKA) K9 Thunder 155 mm/52 calibre SP system – manufactured by Hanwha Land Systems – with deliveries split into two batches of 12 systems.

Estonia is also placing increased emphasis on target acquisition, digital command and control, and fire control including interoperability with allied countries. For example, its FH-70A1 artillery system could benefit from fire-control updates.

Lithuania currently deploys ageing 105 mm M101 towed howitzers, which were supplied by Denmark from 2002. Based on an 80-year old design, the M101 howitzer requires time to come into and out of action and has a maximum range of only 11,270 m when firing the M1 high-explosive (HE) projectile.

These weapons will be replaced by 21 ex-German Army Krauss-Maffei Wegmann PzH 2000 155 mm/52 calibre SP artillery systems under a government-to-government agreement signed between Germany and Lithuania in September 2015.

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