The Estonian Ministry of Defense has decided to join its Finland’s plan to acquire South Korean K9 Thunder howitzers 155mm self-propelled howitzers.
The Estonian Defense Minister Margus Tsahkna stated the new weapons will significantly increase the artillery and maneuver capabilities of the country’s land forces as they have the capability to strike targets with a range of 40 km.
The minister added that Estonia plans to purchase a minimum of 12 K9 howitzers, and deliveries are expected to start in 2021.
Estonia’s, like other eastern European countries, has stepped up its purchases of military weapons and gear, specially after Russia seized the Crimean peninsula from Ukraine in 2014.
Estonia is also set to expand its defense procurements to some €200 million (US $215.6 million) per year by 2020, according to the Defense Minister.
The K9 Thunder is a self-propelled produced by South Korea’s Hanwha Techwin. The howitzer is an indigenous system of an all-welded steel armor construction which is rated to withstand 14.5 mm armor piercing rounds, 152 mm shell fragments, and anti-personnel mines.
The main armament consists of a 155 mm/52 caliber ordnance with a maximum firing range of 40 km; the K307 BB-HE projectile propelled by the K676 top charge has a muzzle velocity of 928 m/s (3,040 ft/s).
Its State-of-the-art mobility subsystems include a 1,000 horsepower (750 kW) engine with potential for growth and hydropneumatic suspension unit, a requirement for Korea’s rugged mountainous terrain.