Finland: K9 155 mm/L52 self-propelled guns replace PsH 74/2S1

K9 Thunder self-propelled guns (SPGs) from South Korean Hanwha Techwin company are replacing the current PsH 74 2S1 (Gvozdika) 122 mm SPGs in the Finnish Defense Forces.

Finland K9 155 mm L52 Thunder replace PsH 74 2S1 self propelled guns

The South-Korean K9 155 mm/L52 SPG will receive "Thunder" (Moukari) as nickname in the Finnish army (Picture source: Army Recognition)

Late February 2017, the Finnish MoD announced the signing of a contract worth EUR146 million (USD155 million) for the acquisition of South Korean artillery systems. According to TASS Defense, Defense Minister of Finland Jussi Niinisto announce at, on February 8, the first batch of four K9 155 mm/L52 Thunder (Finnish designation: Moukari) SPGs was delivered to the port of Vuosaari, Helsinki.

In accordance with the agreement, Helsinki acquired 48 surplus K9 Thunder SPGs previously used by the Republic of Korea Army (ROKA). The SPGs are to be delivered to the customer by 2024. Finland could acquire an additional batch of the K9 under the aforementioned agreement.

A K9 demonstrator is reported to have successfully passed its trials in Finland in November 2016. The MoD will use this SPG for training and demonstrating of the system's capabilities.
Previously, the FDF said that the new K9 Thunder/Moukari SPGs would reach initial operating capability (IOC) in 2020 and full operating capability (FOC) in 2025.

According to the official catalogue of the Thunder's manufacturer, Hanwha Land Systems (a subsidiary of South Korea's Hanwha Techwin company), the K9 SPG has a combat weight of 47 t, a maximum firing range of 40 km, a rate of fire of six to eight rounds per minute and an ammunition load of 48 rounds. The gun can fire in automatic, semi-automatic or manual reloading mode. The SPG also features the MRSI (Multiple Rounds Simultaneous Impact) capability. The manufacturer claims that the K9 Thunder is suitable for the ‘shoot & scoot’ tactics.

An FDF source told the IHS Jane's think-tank that the K9 Moukari SPGs would feature new Finnish-originated digital radios and a battlefield management system developed by the Patria company.

Finnish PsH 74 2S1 SPG

PsH 74 2S1 (Gvozdika) 122 mm SPG of the Finnish Defense Forces (Picture source: WiKi)

At present, Finland's MoD still operates a wide range of legacy Cold War-era Soviet-originated artillery pieces. IHS Jane's says that the Finnish military has the M-46 130 mm towed howitzers, D-30 122 mm towed howitzers, 2S1 Gvozdika (Finnish designation: PsH 74) SPGs and 2S5 Giatsint-S (Finnish designation: Telak 91) 152 mm SPGs in its inventory. It should be mentioned that the K9 Moukari will complement 56 155 GH 52 APU 155 mm towed howitzers delivered to the FDF in the early 2000s.

However, all the PsH 74 SPGs of the Finnish military have yet to be phased out of service. The PsH 74 is the baseline 2S1 Gvozdika 122 mm SPG fitted with a turret basket and reflectors. According to the open sources, the PsH 74 has a weight of 16 t, a firing range of 15.3-21.9 km (depending on the round), a sustained rate of fire of 1-2 rounds per minute, a maximum rate of fire of 5 rounds per minute, a road cruising range of 500 km and a road speed of 60 km/h. The SPG is armed with a 122 mm howitzer. According to Finnish military sources, the PsH 74 is a reliable and effective SPG, which can be operated in extremely cold climate and swampy environment.

Despite its age, the 2S1 Gvozdika artillery system is still in use by several foreign armed forces. According to the Military Balance 2017 analytical book issued by the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), Bulgaria operated 48, Croatia - eight, Finland - 36, Poland - 292, Romania - six, Serbia - 67, Armenia - 10, Azerbaijan - 46, Belarus - 198, Georgia - 20, Kazakhstan - 120, Kyrgyzstan - 18, Turkmenistan - 40, Ukraine - 238, Uzbekistan - 18, Uruguay - six, Chad - 10, the Republic of Congo - three, the Democratic Republic of Congo - six, Eritrea - 32 and Zimbabwe - 12 2S1 122 mm self-propelled guns as of early 2017. Therefore, Gvozdika remains one of the most popular 122 mm SPGs in the world.