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Australia buying South Korea’s K9 howitzer for protected mobile fires program

K9 self-propelled howitzer
Photo: Hanwha Defense

The Australian government has selected Hanwha Defence Australia as the preferred supplier of a self-propelled howitzer for the Australian Army’s protected mobile fires program.

On September 3, the government announced it releasing a tender to South Korea’s Hanwha for 30 K9 self-propelled howitzers and 15 armored ammunition resupply vehicles. The new systems will be replacing the service’s 36 M198 towed howitzers.

The howitzers are being acquired under the LAND 8116 Phase 2 project, announced in the 2020 Force Structure Plan. Work is anticipated to start in the late 2020s. LAND 8116 Phase 3, which is to occur in the mid-2030s, will deliver a mid-life upgrade that will provide an opportunity to incorporate emerging technologies.

Photo: Hanwha Defence

Australia is becoming be the seventh country to pick the K9 Thunder as its howitzer of choice. Other operators include Estonia, Finland, India, Norway, Poland and Turkey.

Worth noting is that Australia is also the second nation to buy the K10 automatic ammunition resupply vehicles after Norway. The K10 can load 104 shells at a time, and its rapid automatic ammunition supply maximizes the operational capabilities of the K9 self-propelled artillery.

The K9 155mm howitzer is capable of firing ammunition within 30 seconds of receiving a shooting command. It can fire up to 3 shots within 15 seconds and 18 consecutive shots for 3 minutes.

“Through this project, this government is delivering the capability army needs while creating local jobs in and around Geelong that will grow our highly skilled workforce,” Australian defense minster Linda Reynolds said.

“The self-propelled howitzers will be built in the Geelong region, with ongoing deep maintenance conducted in the same Australian facility to support the systems throughout their service life.”