President Karis: Estonia rates Korean artillery systems highly and hopes its order is fulfilled ahead of schedule
In meeting with Hanwha Aerospace CEO and president Jae-Il Son in Seoul, President Alar Karis expressed his hope that the Estonian Defence Forces would receive the 12 K9 Thunder propelled artillery systems it had ordered from the South Korean defence industry company ahead of schedule. Opportunities for further defence cooperation were also discussed.
The head of state remarked that Estonia holds South Korea’s experience and quality in high regard. “We selected the K9 howitzers as the backbone of our artillery defences because of their global reputation and because they are well suited to our security situation,” he explained. “We realise that by the terms of the procurement contract the delivery of the 12 additional propelled artillery systems we have ordered is planned for 2025-2026, but if this can be fulfilled sooner it would help us to significantly boost our ability to defend our country in the tense security situation in which Europe finds itself.”
President Karis noted that the security of both Estonia and South Korea depends on army reserves and a high level of combat readiness. “We have to contribute to the security of the entire region lying between the Baltic Sea and the Pacific Ocean,” he urged. “To that end we must help Ukraine defend its freedom while at the same time also being ready to defend ourselves. Estonia and South Korea alike value their friends and allies, including the United States.”
Yesterday, President Karis paid a visit to the 1st Artillery Brigade of the Republic of Korea Army, where he was he was given a demonstration of how the K9 propelled artillery systems operate. Representatives of the Estonian Defence Forces were trained on their use in 2020 when the first of 24 such systems arrived in the country. In January this year Estonia signed an agreement for a further 12 K9 Thunder systems to be supplied by the South Korean arms manufacturer Hanwha. The full procurement for the 36 systems is valued at 111 million euros. The agreement is one of the most important that the Estonian Defence Forces have entered in the last 10 years, as it will take their armoured manoeuvring and indirect fire combat capabilities to a new level.