KIELCE, Poland — South Korea is this year’s featured country of MSPO, Poland’s annual defense industry show, where defense giant Hanwha Corporation is pitching its flagship K9 self-propelled howitzer to Eastern European allies.
Jinhwan Jeong, the director of the overseas business division of Hanwha Land Systems, told Defense News that some of the major contracts under development in Eastern Europe include the planned howitzer procurement to Estonia.
“Next year, we want to sign a contract with the Estonian government,” Jeong said. “We are also … offering the K9 to the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Romania, but talks are at a very early stage.”
Following Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine in 2014, numerous Eastern European countries have unveiled plans to purchase howitzers for their respective armed forces.
The Estonian Ministry of Defence plans to jointly acquire the howitzers with its Finnish counterpart with whom it already cooperated in 2009 on an air surveillance radar procurement.
“The howitzers were used by the South Korean Army and they will be overhauled,” Jeong said.
The company representative said the South Korean group is open to transfers of technology to the howitzer’s potential users among NATO allies.
Estonia could become another country in the region to acquire the technology. In 2014, Polish defense company Huta Stalowa Wola bought a license to fit its Krab self-propelled howitzer with the K9’s chassis. Last December, the Polish Ministry of Defence signed a deal worth more than 4.6 billion zloty (U.S. $1.29 billion) to purchase 96 Krabs for the country’s land forces.