155mm tracked self-propelled armored howitzer - South Korea
The K9 Thunder is a South Korean Self-Propelled 155 mm Howitzer (SPH) developed by Samsung Techwin and now manufactured by the company Hanwha Land Systems. The development program of this 155 mm/52-caliber self-propelled howitzer has been underway since 1989. In 1996 the first prototype of this new artillery system was tested. The contract for the new K9 artillery system was awarded to Samsung Aerospace Industries (SSA) by the Korean Government on 22 December 1998. The Republic of Korea Army received the first production batch of K9 from prime contractor SSA in 1999. Turkey has licensed the design of the K9 and used it to develop its indigenous self-propelled howitzer, the T-155 Firtina. The Finnish Ministry of Defence (MoD) confirmed on 17 February 2017, the purchase of K9 Thunder 155 mm self-propelled howitzers from South Korea. According to the Finnish MoD, Finland purchased 48 second-hand South Korean Army K9 self-propelled howitzers at a cost of €146 million (US$155 million). On Wednesday, December 20, 2017, Norway’s defense ministry has announced the purchase of the K9 155 artillery self-propelled howitzers designed and manufactured by the South Korean Company Hanwha Land Systems. Estonia is planning to buy K9 Thunder 155 mm self-propelled howitzers from South Korea, with the two countries signing a memorandum of understanding to begin procurement negotiations on 6 February 2017. In July 2017, Indian Company India's Larsen & Toubro and Hanwha Techwin (HTW) of South Korea signed a contract to produce the K9 155mm/52 Caliber Tracked Self-Propelled howitzer for the Indian Army under the name of Vajra-T, an enhanced version of the K9 Thunder, manufactured according to specific requirements of the Indian Army including desert operations. Tracked chassis of the K9 is also exported to Poland to manufacture the Polish-made Krab 155 mm self-propelled howitzers. The press service of the Ministry of Defense of the Republic of Estonia announced on Tuesday, June 26, 2018, that Estonia has signed a contract with South Korean Defense Company Hanwha to purchase 12 K9 Thunder 155mm self-propelled howitzers for a total amount of €46 million. In October 2018, Hanwha Land Systems confirmed that trials of the K9 Thunder SP artillery system have also been undertaken in Australia, Egypt, Malaysia, Spain, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). On September 2019, the Norwegian army has taken delivery of the first K9 155mm tracked self-propelled howitzer and K10 ARV Armored Resupply Vehicle. The K9 155mm tracked self-propelled is now in service with South Korea, India, Poland, Finland, Estonia, Norway, and Egypt has performed evaluation tests of the K9. In September 2020, Australia announced the purchase of 30 K9 Thunder, as well as 15 K10 ammunition resupply, tracked armored vehicles. According to information published during the EDEX defense exhibition that was held in Egypt, in December 2021, Egypt has shown interest to acquire the South Korean K9 self-propelled howitzer. In January 2022, it was announced that India could order 200 additional K9 howitzers. On February 1, 2022, South Korea signed a contract with Egypt for the delivery of K9 howitzers. On August 26, 2022, Hanwha Defense signed an execution contract to supply K9 Thunder Self-Propelled Howitzers (SPHs) to Poland. Valued some $2.4 billion, the contract is the first phase of the framework agreement, signed in late July, as part of the efforts to strengthen the defense capabilities of the Polish Armed Forces. The latest variant of the K9 howitzer, the K9A2 is one of the contenders for the Mobile Fires Platform (MFP) program launched by the British Ministry of Defense. On December 6, 2022, the South Korean company Hanwha Aerospace delivered the first batch of 24 K9 self-propelled howitzers to Poland. On January 14, 2023, Estonia signed a new contract with the South Korean company Hanwha Defense for the procurement of 12 additional K9 155mm howitzers.
K9 Thunder Variants:
-K10 ARV: ammunition resupply vehicle for K9 howitzer
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. When traveling the 155 m/52 caliber barrel is held in position with a travel lock installed on the forward part of the hull, this is operated by the driver by remote control. The charges are loaded manually. The K9 Thunder has a maximum rate of fire of 6 rounds per minute and is capable of multiple-round simultaneous-impact firing. It is able to fire three rounds in 15 seconds, each in different trajectories so that all of the shells arrive on target at the same time. The sustained rate of fire is 2 rounds per minute. It is compatible with standard NATO 155-mm ammunition. The maximum range of fire is 30 km with a standard HE projectile and 40 km with a rocket-assisted projectile. After receiving a fire command, the K9 Thunder is able to fire on a target within 30 seconds at emplacement and within 60 seconds from movement. Even though TOT (time on target) firing may be accomplished by several howitzers simultaneously, the K9 Thunder is able to efficiently accomplish the same task by simply changing its fire data. The K9 thunder alone can produce three times as much as the M109A2 155mm SPH in firing capability. One 12.7 mm M2 heavy machine gun is mounted on the right side roof turret and to the forward part of the commander's cupola used as self-protection armament or as an anti-aircraft machine gun.
|Design and protection|
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 a commander, driver, gunner, assistant gunner, and loader. The driver is at the front of the hull on the left with the engine to his right. The turret with the artillery gun system is mounted at the rear of the hull. The commander and gunner are seated on the right side of the turret. A single door is located on the left side of the turret and there is also a large door at the rear of the hull that opens to the right used by the crew to load ammunition.
|The K9 Thunder artillery system is powered by a German MTU MT 881 Ka-500 diesel engine, developing 1,000 horsepower coupled to an Allison automatic transmission X1100-5A3 with 4 forward and 2 reverse gears. Transmission of the K9 Thunder is a further development of that installed on the M1 Abrams main battle tank. The K9 is 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. The track is of the double-pin type with replaceable rubber pads. It can run at a maximum road speed of 67 km/h with a maximum cruising range of 360 km.|
|Standard equipment of the K9 Thunder includes a CBRN protection system, heater, internal and external communications system, and a manual fire suppression system. The K9 is also equipped with a Honeywell Azimuth Position System, Automatic Fire-Control System, powered gun elevation/depression, and turret traverse system.|
|One 155 mm gun, and one 12.7 mm heavy machine gun.||Protection against 14.5mm caliber armor-piercing shells and 152 mm artillery shell fragments.|
|Australia, Egypt, Estonia, India, Finland, Norway, Poland (K9 chassis) South Korea, Turkey (Firtina)||46,300 kg|
|South Korea||67 km/h|
|CBRN protection system, heater, internal and external communications system, manual fire suppression system, and automatic fire control system||360 km|
|5||Length: 7.44 m; Width: 3.4 m; Height: 2.73 m roof turret|
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