The Australian Government has announced that it would procure new self-propelled 155mm/52caliber artillery guns from South Korea via a press release by the Australian Department of Defense on Thursday.
The deal calls for the supply of 30 K9 ‘Thunder’ self-propelled howitzers and associated support equipment, including 10 K10 ammunition resupply vehicles (ARVs). The Korean defense contractor has bagged 1 trillion won ($843 million) for the project.
The government announced that it had chosen the K9 Thunder as the sole candidate for the country’s Land 8116 Artillery Replacement project, one of the Australian Army’s modernization programs.
“This deal will enhance Hanwha’s reputation globally and expand exports of Korea’s weapons,” said Lee Sung-soo, CEO of Hanwha Defense. The company will manufacture the K9 systems in Australia by building facilities near Melbourne and provide maintenance and repair services via local companies.
“After delivering the 30 K9 howitzers and 10 K10 ARVs, we’ll seek more contracts with Australia,” said An Byung-chul, Hanwha’s vice president in charge of business development in Europe and Australia.
The K-9 ‘THUNDER’
The K-9, nicknamed ‘thunder’ is a self-propelled howitzer system designed by the South Korean Agency for Defense Development (ADD) and Samsung Aerospace Industries, now manufactured by Hanwha Defense. It fires the 155mm/52 caliber projectile up to ranges of 40-50 kilometers depending on the ammunition variant.
The system has been successfully exported to seven countries, which include Turkey, Australia, India, Estonia, Norway, Finland and Egypt.
It has an operational range of 480 kilometers and can achieve maximum on-road speeds of 67 km/hr, making it an attractive option in its category. The system is complemented by an ammunition resupply vehicle and has the ability to fire shells in MRSI mode (Multiple Rounds Simultaneous Impact), firing three shells in under 15 seconds—1 shell every 5 seconds—each in different trajectories so that all of the shells will arrive on their target at the same time.
According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, the K9 Thunder accounted for 48% of the global self-propelled howitzer market between 2000 and 2017. Australia is also one of the few customers, second after Norway, who have also sought to buy the Ammunition Resupply Vehicle, called the K-10.