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Australia announces the purchase of 30 K9 Thunder 155m self-propeled howitzers from South Korea.

| 2020

According to a press release published by the Australian Department of Defence on September 3, 2020, the tender for the Protected Mobile Fires project will be released to preferred supplier Hanwha Defence Australia, to build and maintain 30 self-propelled howitzers and 15 armored ammunition resupply vehicles, and their supporting systems. We can assume that the self-propelled howitzer selected by the Australian government is the K9 Thunder produced by the South Korean Company Hanwha Defense.
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South Korean army K-9 Thunder 155mm self-propelled howitzer on tracked armored chassis. (Picture source Army Recognition)

The Morrison Government’s 2019 election commitment to build 30 self-propelled howitzers, creating up to 350 jobs, is progressing on schedule with the release of a Request for Tender in September 2020 for the Protected Mobile Fires project.

LAND 8116 Phase 2, announced in the 2020 Force Structure Plan, is anticipated to commence in the late 2020s, delivering additional Protected Mobile Fires capability, and LAND 8116 Phase 3 is anticipated to commence in the mid-2030s, delivering a mid-life upgrade that will provide an opportunity to incorporate emerging technologies.

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 K9 Thunder 155 self-propelled howitzer is based on an armored tracked chassis which is already in service in South Korea, Finland, India, Estonia,  Norway, Poland under the name of Krab, and Turkey under the name of T-155 Firtina. In April 2017, it was reported that Hanwha Techwin was in negotiations with Egypt to export its K9 Thunder self-propelled howitzer. The K9 Thunder is one of the contenders for supplying Egypt with new artillery systems, other howitzers competing with the K9 include those from Russia, South Africa and France, specifically the CAESAR self-propelled 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.

The maximum firing range is 30 km with 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.

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