Estonian conscript and reservist artillerymen achieved their first live-fires when training with the K9 Kõu (Thunder) self-propelled howitzer.
Press Release, Tallinn, 07 August 2023: [auto-translated] On Saturday, the conscripts of the fire battery and the reservists undergoing retraining got their hands and faces white when firing the K9 mobile cannon at the central training ground of the Defence Forces.
“I was satisfied with the performance of the soldiers and reservists. The gun crews showed a very good results, the fire was either on target or effective, and there was no time when the fire controllers wanted to make fire corrections,” said Major Kaspar Põder, commander of the fire battery. “The procedural matters were quite clear to the soldiers before the shots. But the shooting add a new dimension to the knowledge that comes from adding ammunition. In other words, all the nuances that arise when firing a weapon and that a soldier can only experience during firing – the machine moves a little out of place, rolls back, system warnings that come when the team forgets to make a certain movement.”
During the first shootings, the teams’ activities are controlled by active-duty military instructors, but after a while, the conscripts acting as a team must demonstrate their professionalism and skill by acting independently. According to Private Jass Kiisler, commander of the self-propelled artillery K9 team, the soldiers were ready for shooting: “I was satisfied with the teamwork – we had studied and drilled this thing hard, everyone fulfilled their role very well, and I can only praise them. The machine still needs learning and practice, but I believe that we will feel much more confident in the next shoots.”
While the conscripts were preceded by a three-month mobile artillery basic course with specialised courses, the reservists who participated in the shooting were able to improve their skills during the rapid retraining that took place in December of last year.
“I was in military service in 2010, at that time I was a calculator. During the shootings here, I could fulfil the role of both the aimer and the assistant aimer. It was a very proud feeling both when the battalion called and asked if I would be willing to receive training in a new weapon system and continue active reserve service, and today, when we were able to show a good result as a team again,” said Private Raiko Kaasik.
“Integrating reservists into shooting will be one of the most important goals in the future as well. To keep them informed about the developments of the unit, to develop their skills and so that the men who will go out together if necessary get to know each other,” said Major Põder.
K9 Kõu self-propelled guns have high penetration, on tracks, good armour protection and high firepower. The life of the weapon systems is 45 years, which means that the Estonian artillery can use these weapon systems for at least another 30 years. Since the mobile artillery is armoured and self-propelled, it increases the protection of the artillery crew and allows faster manoeuvring, which increases the resistance to destruction and firepower. The weapon system is simple and reliable, suitable for use by both conscripts and reservists.