The K9 Thunder self-propelled howitzer of Hanwha Defense is on the move (SPH) for compatibility test with U.S. weapon systems at Yuma Proving Ground in Arizona on Oct. 7. Photo courtesy of Hanwha Defense

Korean defense giant says its artillery solutions proven compatible with US munitions

South Korea’s defense giant Hanwha Defense announced on Oct. 7 that it had proved the compatibility of the K9 Thunder self-propelled howitzer (SPH) and K10 ammunition resupply vehicle (ARV) with a variety of U.S. munitions.

To showcase the compatibility, the company’s American subsidiary Hanwha Defense USA and the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Armaments Center (DEVCOM AC) cooperated.

Witnessed by over 60 invitees across the U.S. Army and allied nations, the live-fire demonstration took place at Yuma Proving Ground, AZ, where Hanwha’s artillery solutions —K9A1 SPH and K10 ARV—loaded and fired different types of U.S. ammunition, including 155mm M795 projectiles, XM1113 rocket-assisted projectiles (RAP), and modular artillery charge system (MACS) charges.

The demonstration consisted of three major events—automated resupply of U.S. projectiles by the K10 ARV; firing of M795 projectiles to demonstrate K9A1’s capabilities of shoot-and-scoot, burst fire, and rapid rate of fire capabilities; and lastly, firing of XM1113 RAP from the K9A1 SPH.

The demonstration started with the automated loading of U.S. ammunition into the K10 ARV, while the attendees witnessed the compatibility of both M795 and XM1113 with K10’s automated ammunition handling system, in addition to the efficient resupply of the self-propelled gun with no manual effort.

Hanwha noted that the K9A1 had demonstrated its signature ‘shoot-and-scoot’ capability, where it fired multiple M795 projectiles and immediately moved to a different location, showcasing the vehicle’s agility to avoid potential counter-fire.

During the burst fire and rate of fire segments of the event, the 155mm/52-calibre artillery, operated by the Hanwha gun crew, fired three rounds in 16 seconds and six rounds in 45 seconds, respectively, with minimal physical effort, according to Hanwha.

In the final segment of the event, the K9A1 fired XM1113 RAP that achieved a range in excess of 50 kilometers.

This was the first time that the U.S. Army had tested the XM1113 with a foreign artillery solution.

Hanwha said that the live demonstration had been conducted under the Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) framework signed in 2021 with the aim of assessing the feasibility, performance, and capabilities of carrying and firing the U.S. munitions by the Hanwha artillery platforms.

“The demonstration successfully met all of its CRADA objectives, having shown the full interoperability of K9 and K10 vehicles with U.S. munitions and charges, in addition to the extended range, shoot and scoot and high rate of fire of the K9 system,” Hanwha Defense USA CEO John Kelly said.

“The collaboration with DEVCOM AC and the U.S. Army Test and Evaluation Command (ATEC) at Yuma has been excellent.”

Specifications of Hanwha weapon systems

The vehicles used in the demonstration will be showcased at the 2022 AUSA Annual Exhibition & Conference in Washington DC, alongside further discussions with DEVCOM AC and the Army about future cooperation opportunities.

The 155mm/52-calibre K9 Thunder is the world’s most popular tracked self-propelled howitzer, with over 1,700 units in service with nine countries around the globe.

The howitzer can deliver consistent, accurate, rapid effects at a +40km range with high rates and volumes of fire. Following the modifications to the K9A1 version, the artillery system is being upgraded to the newer K9A2 variant equipped with a fully automatic ammunition handling system.

The autoloading K9A2 can fire over nine rounds per minute with just three crewmembers.