South Korea is near landing a deal to export home-grown K-9 self-propelled howitzers (SPHs) to Finland and Estonia for their border reinforcement against neighboring Russia, South Korean military officials announced on Monday.
A total of 48 SPHs used by the Korean Army will be shipped to Finland after depot maintenance that requires complete knockdown, replacement of key parts and re-assembly. A legally binding contract will be signed early next month, the officials added. When realized, it will be the first case of K-9 SPHs exported on depot maintenance.
The first batch of 48 SPHs for Finland is estimated to be valued at $200 million. Another $200 million contract may be signed for follow-up component supply support and license fees.
A newly built SPH costs up to 5 billion won but a refurbished one can save the buyer some 1 billion won per unit. All consumables will be replaced with new ones during depot maintenance to ensure durability and reliability in performance, according to military officials.
The Korean army plans to use the proceeds to buy new K-9 fleet.
Estonia, too, is in talks with South Korea to introduce 12 K-9 SPHs worth $50 million possibly under the same terms and conditions as neighboring Finland.
K-9 SPHs manufactured by Hanwha Techwin Co. (formerly Samsung Techwin), are key weapons to South Korean artillery forces. They are recognized for cost effectiveness and superior performance in Finland and elsewhere. Results of winter season tests conducted in Finland can be directly applied to Estonia given their similar climate and terrain.
By Ahn Doo-won
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