DSEI 2021 – Hanwha Defense has formed an international partnership with leading defence manufacturers in the UK to develop a local variant of the K9 Thunder self-propelled howitzer for the British Army.
The companies have come together as ‘Team Thunder’ to bid to manufacture and
supply self-propelled howitzers for the Royal Artillery as part of the Mobile Fires
Platform Programme operated by the Ministry of Defence.
The firm say that local production to bring manufacturing jobs and investments to UK; potential for UK to become regional hub within Hanwha Defense’s global supply chain and that the K9 ‘UK variant’ will feature a fully automated turret and increased rate of fire.
During DSEI 2021, running from September 14-17, at ExCel, London, Hanwha Defense
is to sign memorandums of understanding (MOUs) to form “’Team Thunder,’ which
includes Leonardo UK; Pearson Engineering; Horstman Defence Systems; and Soucy
Defense of the Soucy Group.
Lockheed Martin UK is also in talks to join the Team Thunder and more partners may be announced later.
“Team Thunder will be a key pillar of Hanwha Defense’s bid for the Mobile Fires
Platform programme, and the formation of Team Thunder demonstrates a firm
commitment to bringing the maximum benefit to the UK industry through a robust
partnership with local suppliers,” said Vice President Mr. Oh Kyehwan of Hanwha
Defense’s Overseas Business Division.
“We believe the combination of UK industrial expertise and South Korean technology will generate an incredible level of synergy.”
The firm say that other localiSation plans will include training programmes to support workforce development and provide opportunities for local graduates and apprentices.
Hanwha Defense has already had positive experiences of industrial partnerships in
Poland and India with regards to the manufacturing of K9 vehicles, whilst industrial
capability programs are also taking shape in Australia for potential production of K9’s
Australian version ‘AS9 Huntsman’ under the LAND 8116 Protected Mobiles Fire
“The Team Thunder partnership is established with one eye on the export market with
the potential for the UK to become a regional hub within the global supply chain of the
2,400 K9 family vehicles, including K10 ammunition resupply vehicles.”
For the MFP programme, Hanwha Defense will offer the most advanced version of the
K9 155mm/52-calibre Self-Propelled Howitzer (SPH), called the K9A2, which is being
developed to feature enhanced firepower, protection and mobility.
The K9A2 is to be equipped with a fully automated turret capable of firing nine rounds
per minute. With the automated turret, the number of crew is to be reduced from five to
three. A plan is being examined to equip the K9 with composite rubber tracks, which
will bring several benefits, including improved road mobility.
Nearly 1,700 K9 variants are in service with seven countries including South Korea, Turkey, Poland, Finland, India, Norway and Estonia.
Australia would be the eighth customeroperating K9 vehicles, as the country is in the process of acquiring 30 AS9 Huntsman vehicles and 15 K10 armoured ammunition resupply vehicles.