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Norway Goes Korean With First Artillery Update in 50 Years

© AFP 2023 / DONG-A ILBOSouth Korean army K9 Thunder 155mm self-propelled Howitzers (image used for illustration purpose)
South Korean army K9 Thunder 155mm self-propelled Howitzers (image used for illustration purpose) - Sputnik International
In the first major upgrade of its artillery since the 1960s, Norway has settled for the Korean K-9 Thunder, which is currently in use in South Korea itself as well as Turkey.

The Norwegian Defense Materiel Agency (NDMA) has entered an agreement with the South Korean company Hanwha Land Systems for the purchase of 24 K-9 Thunder 155mm systems, along with associated ammunition, to the tune of NOK 3.2 billion ($380 million).

"The K9 Thunder by Hanwha Land Systems is a fully-developed and verified artillery system that meets the Armed Forces' needs and requirements. Hanwha Land Systems has also shown that they are able to deliver according to the required time and cost limits," the NDMA wrote in a press release.

According to the contract, there is a reserved option to buy an extra 24 systems, which would give Norway a total of 48. Previously, the same amount has been procured by Norway's neighbor Finland, the Tekniske Ukeblad trade weekly reported.

​"It has been important for us to find an artillery system with the highest degree of already-developed capacity and thus the lowest possible risk," Brigadier Morten Eggen said.

South Korean army K9 Thunder 155mm self-propelled Howitzers fire during a live-fire drill in Pocheon, 65 kms northeast of Seoul - Sputnik International
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The delivery of the artillery will start in 2019 and be fully complete by 2021, several years earlier than planned (2024).
According to the NDMA, four artillery systems were tested in the winter of 2016. The imperative requirement was the ability to deliver indirect fire over 40 kilometers' distance, while cost-efficiency, operational availability and the capacity to resist enemy fire also were considered.

A logistics and maintenance center for the new procurement will be established in collaboration with Bjerkvik Tekniske Verkstad, in collaboration with Hanwha Land Systems, which will provide the necessary test equipment and training material.

Norway has been struggling for years to replace its ageing artillery, which it bought approximately 50 years ago. In 2003, Norway signed a letter of intent with the Netherlands to acquire 18 Panserhaubitze 2000 units, but the project was canceled four years later due to the costs. In 2007, an agreement over 24 Norwegian-Swedish Archer systems was signed, but was also canceled in 2013 due to delays and technical challenges.

READ ALSO: Planning Gaffe Leaves Norway's New Fighter Jets Without Due Air Defense

At present, Norway has 14 M109 systems, originally acquired in 1969; these are heavily modernized and spread over three artillery batteries.

​The K9 Thunder is a South Korean self-propelled howitzer developed in late 1999 by Samsung Techwin. In the future, the list of user nations may include India, Poland and Estonia with 100, 120 and 12 pieces respectively.

READ ALSO: Concerned About Korea: Norwegians Re-Thinking Olympic Travel Plan

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