South Korean defence firm Hanwha Defence’s K9 Thunder, a 155mm / 52 caliber Self-Propelled Howitzer (SPH) is said to be one of the frontrunners to meet an Egyptian Army requirement for modern howitzers.
Egypt’s Minister of State for Military Production Mohamed Ahmed Morsi, who recently visited South Korea to participate in the Seoul ADEX aerospace and defence exhibition, inspected a number of factories of South Korean companies such as “Hyundai Wia” and “Hanwha”. He visited the companies’ factories for manufacturing the K9 Thunder and K2 Black Panther (one of the most advanced main battle tanks in the world). He also watched the dry firing of a K9 Thunder and inspected its production phases. Korea has offered long-term support and maintenance packages for the US$2 billion. K9 deal with Egypt.
Hanwha Defence officials, speaking to GBP Show Daily at the recently concluded Seoul ADEX defence exhibition, said that the K9 SPH along with other its sophisticated land defence systems, were ideally suited for Egyptian requirements. According to the official, the 155mm/52-calibre K9 Thunder is the world’s best-selling SPH, as nearly 1,700 K9 variants are in service in seven nations including South Korea, Turkey, Poland, Finland, Norway, India, Estonia. Australia is the eighth customer for the K9 SPH, selecting the system for its LAND 400 Phase 3 armored vehicle modernization programme and LAND 8116’s acquisition of the AS9 Self-Propelled Howitzer and AS10 fully automated Armored Ammunition Resupply Vehicle. The SPH will be called the AS9 Huntsman by the Australian armed forces and the first AS9 built on Australian production lines in Geelong, is expected to roll-out in 2023.
Hanwha Defence is advanced on development of the K9A2 variant. The newer version is envisaged to feature a fully automated loading system instead of the semi auto-loader for the existing variants. The automatic turret will allow for fully autonomous firing with a rate of fire of nine+ rounds per minute, as well as reducing the number of crew from five to three soldiers. The possibility of introducing composite rubber tracks is also under examination to improve mobility, company official says.
The K9 boasts excellent performance with a long shooting range for fire combat and a fast-firing speed for realtime, quick-focused fire power. It is a unit capable of quick displacement after shooting and has excellent maneuverability and survivability. The K9 Thunder can fire its first round within 30 seconds from the moment it first receives firing information from the Fire Direction Center (FDC) while in emplaced situation. While moving, it can fire after 60 seconds. After firing, K9 Thunder can quickly move away from its last position in anticipation of the enemy’s counter fire, before firing its next shot.
The K9 can fire a burst rate of three rounds in less than 15 seconds and a maximum rate of fire of six to eight rounds in a minute for three minutes. Sustained rate of fire is from two to three rounds a minute for one hour. The Korean built self-propelled howitzer has proven its operational capability in a range of environments, from deserts to snowy fields, and it is being exported to overseas countries. It was most recently deployed in the Himalayas by the Indian army.
Hanwha Defence also plans to offer the latest variant of the K9, dubbed K9A2, for the British Army’s Mobile Fires Platform (MFP) program. Hanwha Defence has also signed an agreement with Oshkosh Defence for the digital design phase of the US Army’s next generation combat vehicle programme.
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