Finnish Defence Forces have been working on a major procurement deal involving self-propelled howitzer artillery for some years now. The military wants to replace currently-used Soviet-built cannons with modern howitzers.
At the end of last year, the army tested the South Korean-manufactures K9 Thunder howitzer in Rovajärvi. The K9 Thunder is a 155 millimetre armored howitzer with a firing range of about 40 kilometres and a maximum sped of nearly 70 kilometres an hour.
Finland plans to purchase used units from South Korea. Late last year Defence Minister Jussi Niinistö confirmed to daily Helsingin Sanomat that Finland will offer Estonia the opportunity to participate in the deal.
On Monday Estonian Defence Minister Margus Tsahkna told Defence News website that Estonia has decided to join Finland to acquire the military hardware. Tsahkna said that the new system would significantly strengthen the country’s artillery power as well as the manoeuvrability of its armed forces.
Estonia plans to purchase at least 12 howitzers. There has been no official word on how much of the materiel Finland will acquire, but it is expected to be much more than what will be in Estonia’s shopping basket.
Delivery of the South Korean weapons is expected to take place by 2021. According to the Finnish Defence Ministry, a final decision on the deal could take place by mid-February.