South Korean defense technology company Hanwha Defense says it has begun formal discussions with UK partners to offer a ‘Made in the UK’ variant of its K9 self-propelled howitzer for the British Army’s Mobile Fires Platform program.
The K9 is currently in service with the Republic of Korea and armies around the world, including India, Norway, Finland and Estonia. In September 2020 the Australian Army selected the K9 as its preferred solution for the Protected Mobile Fires platform in its LAND 8116 program, with a final contract due to be awarded in early 2022.
The South Korea company intends to replicate the industry participation model used in India and Australia so that maximum value possible of the British Army’s K9s will be made in the UK.
The company added it was ready to transfer related technology and know-how to the UK and will be enabling its UK partners to access a global market in excess of 600 vehicles.
As revealed, talks are already underway with Lockheed Martin UK, Pearson Engineering, Horstman Defence Systems and Soucy Defense, along with other UK defense industry partners.
As part of the MFP program, Hanwha Defense will contribute across the UK to introduce specialist training and new skills for the long-term development, manufacture, maintenance and support of the British Army’s version of K9.
Tests and evaluations of a new version of K9, dubbed the K9A2, are already in full swing to increase the artillery’s key capabilities, including the maximum rate of fire and automatic ammunition loading functions. The K9A2 development has been led by Hanwha Defense and the state-funded Agency for Defense Development.
The proposed UK version would be fitted with an unmanned turret, mine protection kits and composite rubber tracks. Furthermore, an automated resupply capability will be introduced using Hanwha’s robotic K10 ammunition resupply vehicle.
“Building on the developing relationship between the UK and South Korea we are delighted to invite the UK to join the K9 global family,” said Oh Kyea-hwan, vice president of Hanwha Defense International, who is responsible for sales and marketing of the UK project.
“We are looking forward to engaging with the UK Mobile Fires Platform team to explore how we can bring the maximum amount of industrial benefit to the UK.”
The UK defense ministry is expected to release a request for proposals for MFP in 2022. The new self-propelled howitzers will replace the AS90 artillery weapon, which has been in service since the 1990s, and will support the armored infantry and future strike brigades.