- Associated Press - Tuesday, June 26, 2018

HELSINKI (AP) - Estonia has agreed to buy South Korean artillery in a 46 million-euro ($54 million) deal that officials say will substantially boost the small Baltic country’s defense capacity.

The Estonian military procurement agency says the contract with Seoul-based weapons producer Hanwha Land Systems is for 12 K9 Thunder howitzers, training, maintenance and spare parts.

Agency director Col. Rauno Sirk said after a signing ceremony on Tuesday that the artillery pieces “will bring Estonia’s defense capacity to a new level and be one of the most considerable steps of building up armored maneuvering capacity.”

The first howitzers are to arrive in Estonia in 2020.

Finland, Norway and Poland are among current European users of the self-propelled K9 Thunder.

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