Representatives of Team Thunder partners pose at a parliamentary reception in London on March 22. They showed their commitment to bringing social value and prosperity benefits to the U.K. Photo courtesy of Hanwha Defense

Global partnership vows in-country manufacturing of advanced K9 Self-Propelled Howitzer

South Korea’s Hanwha Defense said that it had hosted a parliamentary reception in London on March 22 to demonstrate its commitment to bringing social value and prosperity benefits to the U.K.

Specifically, the Seoul-based outfit promised in-country manufacture of the advanced variant of its K9 Thunder. It is a manufacturer of the tested-and-tried Self-Propelled Howitzer.

The prestigious event was joined by Team Thunder partners and welcomed parliamentary members. The event was also attended by other key stakeholders from the defense industry, according to Hanwha.

Lockheed Martin UK has joined Team Thunder which also includes Leonardo, Pearson Engineering, Horstman Defense Systems, and Soucy Defense of Soucy Group.

“The event is the official launch of Team Thunder and offers a great opportunity for all the partners and stakeholders to come together in one room and talk about the benefits this partnership will bring to the UK defense industry,” Hanwha’s overseas business chief Kim Dae-young said.

“Team Thunder is a unique international partnership with leading UK defense manufacturers to develop a local variant of the world’s most proven Self-Propelled Howitzer, K9 Thunder, for the Royal Artillery.”

Executive Vice President Kim also noted that Team Thunder was committed to creating hundreds of brand-new high-value jobs in the UK supply chain as well as local training programs for graduates and apprentices.

In addition to developing a home-grown UK-owned capability, there are huge export potential opportunities too – the UK could become a regional hub to the global supply chain the 2,400 K9 family vehicles.

Team Thunder partners plan to share the work scope for manufacturing the up-to-date artillery system.

While Hanwha Defense is supposed to take the lead as prime contractor, Lockheed Martin UK will undertake the platform and systems integration work, as well as turret production.

Hanwha said that Leonardo would provide the onboard navigation and pointing systems, while Pearson Engineering will take charge of the manufacturing and fabrication of the vehicle.

Horstman Defense Systems is to provide suspension and other running gear components. Soucy Defense will provide the Composite Rubber Track Kit that includes associated casted wheel assemblies.

Hanwha claimed that the K9 delivers precise, sustained, and rapid long-range firepower, and it can locate and engage a target quickly, as well as move rapidly to avoid counter-battery fire for “shoot and scoot” tactical operations.

Unlike wheeled vehicles, the K9 tracked Howitzer is able to effectively operate in difficult terrains, including off-road, deserts, snow, and other challenging environments, according to Hanwha.

Hanwha Defense is set to offer the British Army the most advanced version of the K9 155mm/52-calibre SPH, dubbed K9A2, to feature enhanced firepower, mobility, and survivability.

The K9A2 is to be fitted with a fully automated turret capable of firing nine+ rounds per minute, with plans to integrate composite rubber tracks and a remote-controlled weapon station into the vehicle also being considered.

Recognized for its maneuverability and survivability, the K9 system is already in service with seven countries, including NATO members such as Poland, Norway and Estonia, and there are plans for hundreds more units to be built for Australia and Egypt in the coming years.