Finland to purchase 10 additional K9 155mm self-propelled howitzers from South Korea
According to information published by the "Business Korea" website on November 3, 2021, Finland will purchase an additional batch of 10 K9 Thunder 155mm tracked self-propelled howitzers from South Korean company Hanwha Defense. The contract is scheduled to be signed next year and the first K9 will be delivered by 2025.
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South Korean Army K9 Thunder 155mm self-propelled howitzer. (Picture source Army Recognition)
In February 2017, Finland has signed a 146-million-euro agreement that authorized the Finnish Defence Forces to procure 48 pieces of surplus 155mm K9 Thunder howitzers from South Korea. This procurement is realized as part of the Operational Artillery program which was launched back in 2014 with the objective to replace artillery equipment that will be decommissioned.
The beginning of the Operational Artillery program involved examining several options. The request for information (RFI) that was submitted generated responses from a number of countries and manufacturers. During the phase of request for quotation (RFQ) it turned out that South Korea was interested in offering their surplus of K9 Thunder self-propelled howitzers. As a result, the K9 became available for field tests in Rovajärvi in November 2016. Having completed the tests, the Finnish Defence Forces suggested that Finland procure surplus K9 self-propelled howitzers complemented by the build-up of a new unit type, namely, a heavy armored howitzer battery.
The K9 Thunder is a 155mm tracked self-propelled howitzer designed and developed by the South Korean Agency for Defense Development and Samsung Aerospace Industries for the Republic of Korea Armed Forces and is now manufactured by Hanwha Defense. The K9 is now in service with Turkey under the name of T-155 Firtina, Poland using only the chassis with a modified AS-90 British turret, Finland, India, Norway and Estonia. The K9 will also join Mobile Fires Platform (MFP) program starting in 2022 to replace Britain's AS90 with K9A2 variant.
The main armament of the K9 Thunder consists of a 155 mm/52 caliber ordnance with a maximum firing range of 40 km. A total of 48 projectiles and their associated charges are carried for ready use. Internally an automatic loading system takes projectiles from the storage position and places them onto the ammunition tray ready for ramming.
The K9 is based on tracked chassis fitted with a hydropneumatic suspension that consists on each side of six dual rubber road wheels, with the drive sprocket at the front, idler at the rear, and three track return rollers. It can run at a maximum road speed of 67 km/h with a maximum cruising range of 360 km.
The K9 Thunder has an all-welded steel hull and turret with a maximum thickness of 19 mm. It provides protection from the firing of small arms and artillery shell fragments. This self-propelled howitzer has a crew of five, consisting of commander, driver, gunner, assistant gunner, and loader.