Hanwha Defense K9A2 Self-Propelled Howitzer to debut at DVD defense exhibition in UK

The world’s favourite self-propelled howitzer has arrived in the United Kingdom, for the first time, ready to highlight its upgraded features. Hanwha Defense’s K9A2 self-propelled howitzer, an upgraded variant of the K9A1, will be on show at DVD at the UTAC Millbrook Proving Ground in Bedfordshire.
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K9A2 Thunder self-propelled howitzer ready to appear at DVD 2022 in the UK (Picture source: Hanwha Defense)

The K9A2 capability offering for UK Ministry of Defence’s Mobile Fires Platform (MFP) programme comes at a time when the need to outpace and outfight adversaries has been reinforced by recent geopolitical events, and the criticality of effective surface-to-surface fires, as part of the close and deep battles is being re-learned; range and precision of effects will be key.

There are over 1,700 units already in service with seven NATO and allied nations, including Turkey, Poland, Norway, and Estonia. More recently, Australia and Egypt have joined the K9 users' community, bringing the number of countries to nine, while Poland has signed a framework agreement to procure over 600 more of K9s.

Pasi Pasivirta, Director of Business Development Europe for Hanwha Defense, said: “The expansion of the K9 user community increases interoperability benefits and brings greater through-life operating and upgrade efficiencies to members. Integration with NATO allies will be a force multiplier for the UK, as the adoption of common data standards, interoperable network systems and open architectures make it a critical enabler of multi-domain operations”.

The 155mm/52-calibre K9 Thunder is a proven tracked platform, allowing genuine, sustained 360-degree firing solutions, delivering consistent, accurate, rapid effects at +40km range with high rate and volumes of fire, including Multiple Round Simultaneous Impact (MRSI). The Thunder carries 48 rounds, far more rounds than many of its rivals, facilitating a significantly enhanced number of missions.

Being proposed for the Royal Artillery, K9A2 will be a real game changer. The British variant of the K9A2 will be equipped with the Composite Rubber Track, which will enable more rapid ‘in to’ and ‘out of' action, coupled with higher levels of tactical mobility and automation. The UK variant will be capable of firing up to 10 rounds per minute, with just three crewmembers.

Sun Wi, Director of Overseas Business Division and Programme Manager for MFP, Hanwha Defense, said: “The K9A2 will deliver opportunities for novel artillery employment and enables fast-moving, shoot and scoot operations, to enhance survivability and extend battlefield coverage. Alongside our Team Thunder partners, we will be demonstrating at DVD 2022 how the K9A2 platform is the most advanced and credible artillery system for MFP, offering a tried, tested and trusted solution. The key theme is to ensure that the K9A2 will feature proven capability and expertise from across the UK”.

As part of its commitment to a long-term partnership with the UK, Hanwha Defense created Team Thunder, a partnership of UK defence companies with whom it already has strong relationships. The team includes Lockheed Martin UK, Leonardo UK, Pearson Engineering, Horstman Defence Systems in the UK; and Soucy Defense from Canada. Hanwha Defense has committed to transfer at least 50 % of the manufacture of the British K9A2 to the UK under its Team Thunder alliance.

Team Thunder

Team Thunder companies gather:
• Hanwha Defense Corp.: Hanwha Defense is the largest defence manufacturer in South Korea, a major affiliate of Hanwha Group, a Fortune Global 500 company. With a half-century of accumulated technologies in multiple proven direct and indirect fire solutions, Hanwha Defense has deep expertise and an outstanding track record in the design and manufacturer of artillery, air defence, armoured vehicles, and unmanned ground systems, providing over 8,500 cutting-edge combat vehicles to countries around the globe.
• Lockheed Martin UK: LMUK was the UK lead company involved in the development & supply of MLRS to the UK and plans to take a significant role in the upgrade programme LMUK expertise is in requirements management, safety assurance, subsystem and turret design, training, trials and support. Approximately 350 direct jobs will be created or sustained with another estimated 1400 indirect jobs.
• Pearson Engineering Ltd: Pearson Engineering is a leading and global provider of mobility, counter-mobility and survivability equipment, as well as manufacturing services for armoured vehicle programmes. As an SME located at Armstrong Works in Newcastle upon Tyne, Pearson Engineering brings together extensive armoured vehicle experience, earned over nearly 40 years of providing equipment to Armed Forces around the world, with the possibilities offered by the UK’s only purpose-built armoured vehicle manufacturing site. Approximately 285 direct jobs will be created or sustained with another estimated 1,140 indirect jobs.
• Horstman Defence: Horstman has been in direct support of HDC and the K9 SPH programme for nearly two decades with its Horstman-designed Hydrogas suspension system fitted to all K9 SPH in service around the world. Approximately 40 direct jobs will be created or sustained with another estimated 120 indirect jobs.
• Leonardo UK: Leonardo is one of the UK's leading aerospace companies and one of the biggest suppliers of defence and security equipment to the UK Ministry of Defence. The company operates from 6 main sites across the country, employing around 8,000 highly skilled people.
Globally, Leonardo is among the top ten world players in Aerospace, Defence and Security, with more than 49,000 employees and a significant industrial presence in Italy, the United Kingdom, Poland and the USA. Leonardo has an established relationship with HDC and its LINAPS system equips the Indian Army’s K9 SPH. The K9A2 would create or sustain approximately 120 direct jobs at Leonardo UK with another estimated 400 indirect jobs.
• Soucy Defense: Soucy has already provided Composite Rubber Tracks to HDC for the Redback IFV and is the supplier to BAE, GD, Rheinmetall, and STELS as well as providing input to the UK MLRS upgrade. Approximately 95 direct jobs will be created or sustained with another estimated 380 indirect jobs.