Feb. 9 (UPI) -- Estonia will join Finland in purchasing used K9 Thunder howitzers from the government of South Korea, defense officials confirmed.
Finland has been in talks with South Korea for a couple of years to procure heavy artillery assets to replace its Soviet-era arsenal. The country's army tested the K9 in late 2016, when Finnish defense minister Jussi Niinistö offered Estonia the opportunity to participate in the purchase.
According to Finnish news agency Yle Uutiset, Estonia plans to procure 12 of the weapons. Finland has not disclosed how many howitzers it plans to buy. A final decision on the deal is expected to take place in the middle of February.
Quwa reports Estonia is eyeing the purchase as a deterrent against heightened Russian aggression, and that South Korea is trying to expand its opportunities in the European defense market.
The K9 Thunder is a self-propelled 155mm howitzer developed by South Korea-based contractor Samsung Techwin. The weapon is designed to operate alongside the K10 automatic ammunition resupply vehicle, and can fire at a range 25 miles.
South Korea's armed forces began operating the K9 in 1999. Additional operators include Poland and India. Norway and Denmark have also expressed interest in procuring the weapon.