Industry

Hanwha, Kongsberg team up to bolster Australia’s K9 howitzers

SEOUL — Hanwha Defense Australia has announced a partnership with Kongsberg Defence Australia to integrate command, control, communication and computing technology into the K9 self-propelled howitzer and the K10 ammunition resupply vehicle.

The announcement came two months after the Australian branch of Hanwha Defense, a defense company in South Korea, was selected as the preferred supplier for Australia’s self-propelled howitzer acquisition project, code-named Land 8116 Phase 1.

Under the project, the Australian Army is to acquire 30 155mm, 52-caliber K9 “Huntsman” howitzers and 15 K10 armored ammunition resupply vehicles, both of which are built by Hanwha.

“The selection of KONGSBERG as a central part of our Land 8116 Phase 1 industry team will make a very important contribution to Hanwha’s capacity to deliver effective capability for the [Australian Defence Force] while fulfilling our extensive Australian Industry Capability commitments,” Richard Cho, managing director of Hanwha’s branch Down Under, said in a statement.

The partnership has already proven to be successful, he added, citing their recent involvement in Norway’s Vidar program for K9 and K10 procurement, and pointing to their delivery of K9s to Finland and Estonia.

Under the partnership, Kongsberg is responsible for the integration of tactical communication systems and battle management systems.

“Together with Hanwha Defence Australia, KONGSBERG is committed to the establishment of a sovereign industry capability to support the Australian Protected Mobile Fires capability throughout its service life,” said Joh Fry, general manager of Kongsberg Defence Australia. “We’ll continue to source as much C4 hardware as possible through Australian and New Zealand-based suppliers.”

Developed by South Korea’s Agency for Defense Development and Samsung Techwin in 1998, the K9 Thunder is touted as one of the world’s most advanced self-propelled howitzers. It’s designed to provide effective and deep fire support across theaters. The howitzer is now manufactured by Hanwha Defense, a defense contractor of Hanwha Group that acquired Samsung Techwin in 2017.

The main weapon is the 155mm, 52-caliber gun with a burst rate of fire of three rounds per 15 seconds, and a maximum rate of fire of six rounds a minute for three minutes. It has a firing range of 40 kilometers and is capable of “multiple rounds simultaneous impact” firing.

On Nov. 13, South Korea’s Defense Acquisition Program Administration announced that the completion of deliveries of K9s to the South Korean military. The announcement came about two decades after the first K9 fleet was deployed on the western border islands of Yeonpyeong and Baengnyeong.

An upgraded variant, the K9A1, is in production with improvements in fire control and power systems. DAPA and Hanwha Defense plan to continue to improve the K9′s capabilities to add automatic loading and unmanned maneuvering functions.

The K9 has been exported to several countries, including Turkey, Poland, India, Norway and Estonia. About 1,700 units are in service around the world, according to Hanwha.

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