The Estonian defense ministry has announced an additional contract for the purchase of South Korean-built K9 Thunder self-propelled howitzers which will boost the total number of systems in its army’s inventory to 36.
On January 14, the country’s defense ministry revealed it had ordered another 12 K9 howitzers from Hanwha Defense.
These will be joining the initial 18 systems, the first of which were delivered in October 2020. Procured for a total cost of 83 million euros, the initial batch was scheduled to complete deliveries this year.
According to Estonia’s Centre for Defence Investments, the latest contract option is worth about 36 million euros.
The defense ministry did not provide a timeline for the delivery of the additional 12 howitzers.
Capable of firing ammunition within 30 seconds of receiving a shooting command, the K9 155mm howitzer can fire up to 3 shots within 15 seconds and 18 consecutive shots for 3 minutes.
In addition to Estonia, the K9 is a howitzer of choice for South Korea, Turkey, India, Finland, Norway and Australia. Poland has set up a 155 mm KRAB weapon system on the K9 chassis, in addition to buying the howitzers directly from South Korea.
Estonia placed an order for the K9 after signing up for six High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) in December last year, becoming the second Baltic country to do so recently. In November 2022, Lithuania’s defense ministry said it expected to finalize the contract for the HIMARS systems by the end of the year.