Additional six K9 Thunder self-propelled artillery units arrive in Estonia

On the order of the Estonian Centre for Defence Investment (ECDI), six additional K9 Thunder self-propelled artillery units arrived today at Paldiski South Harbour. In earlier years, 12 self-propelled artillery units were supplied by South Korea to Estonia, significantly improving the indirect fire capacity of the Estonian Defence Forces.

The first K9 Thunder self-propelled artillery units arrived in Estonia in 2020. “According to the National Defence Development Plan, 24 self-propelled artillery units will be delivered from South Korea to Estonia at total cost of EUR 81.5 million over the course of four years, where the cost also includes training for instructors and maintenance personnel, special tools and spare parts. In addition, it has been decided that another 12 self-propelled artillery units will be purchased in the coming years, making the spearhead of the Defence Forces even more powerful” said Karmo Saar, Armoured Equipment Category Manager at the ECDI.

“The incoming weapons systems are an important addition to the existing towed and mobile artillery weapon systems and a significant contribution to our combat capability,” said Lt. Col. Allan Raidma, Commander of Artillery Battalion in 1st Infantry Brigade of Estonian Defence Forces.

Comprehensive training on K9 self-propelled artillery for representatives of the Estonian Defence Forces began in September 2020, in South Korea, where a training course for users of the weapon was held. The Defence Forces now have a base of instructors, under whose hands the first conscripts have been trained. The self-propelled artillery has high penetrating capacity, is fully tracked, with good armoured protection and high fire power. The lifespan of the weapons system is 45 years, which means that Estonian artillerymen will be able to use these weapons systems for at least another 30 years.

“We’ve been trained in South Korea, we’ve trained additional operatives and launched specialist K9 training since last September. Today I can state that the unit we have in the reserve – and this year also passed the training camp – their knowledge and skills seem to be very good,” added Lieutenant Colonel Raidma.

Last year, the ECDI signed a framework agreement with the company Go Craft 24 for the modification and reconstruction of self-propelled artillery units, which is part of the natural process of integrating machinery with the systems of the Estonian Defence Forces. The work to be carried out includes the installation of communications and control systems for the self-propelled artillery units, painting works, replacement of the fire-extinguishing system, adapting the electrical system, and installing other accessories.

To date, two prototype self-propelled artillery units have been developed in Go Craft, together with the Defence Forces and K9 manufacturer Hanwha Defence, which have successfully passed their test period in the Defence Forces. “We are pleased to note that Go Craft also recently opened Estonia’s first privately owned military weapons repair and production facility, which complies with all of the requirements arising from the Weapons Act, and where it is possible to immediately begin the reconstruction of armoured vehicles CV90 and K9 self-propelled artillery,” added Karmo Saar.

The latest self-propelled artillery units to be modified and adapted for Estonia’s needs by Go Craft will be handed over to the Defence Forces in 2024.

In addition to Estonia, additional self-propelled artillery units are also being procured by Norway, Finland, and Poland.

The Estonian Centre for Defence Investments (ECDI), established in 2017, is a governmental agency for the acquisition of infrastructure and materials in the area of government of the Estonian Ministry of Defence. The purpose of the ECDI is to allow the Defence Forces to focus on their core military tasks and to maximise the defence capability created for every euro invested. The ECDI organises procurements for the Estonian Ministry of Defence, the Defence Forces of Estonia, and other agencies in the field of defence, as well as manages and develops their immovable property. From 2022 onwards, the agency will prepare national defence tasks and determine duty to grant use for all things related to national defence tasks. In order to develop national defence, products and services are annually purchased for more than EUR 350 million, and the infrastructure is maintained in the amount of more than EUR 70 million.

More information:
Estonian Centre for Defence Investment
Head of Communications
Hanna Heinnurm
[email protected]