Representatives of Team Thunder partner firms from the U.K. pose in front of Hanwha’s K9 Self-Propelled Howitzer at a Hanwha factory in Changwon, South Korea, on Jan. 17. Photo courtesy of Hanwha Aerospace

British variant of K9 self-propelled gun proposed to UK

Hanwha Aerospace said on Jan. 17 that business leaders and engineers from five defence companies in the U.K. visited the manufacturing facility of the K9 Self-Propelled Howitzer (SPH) in South Korea.

Their visit was geared toward progressing plans to compete for the U.K. Mobile Fires Platform (MFP) programme.

The companies include Lockheed Martin U.K.; Leonardo U.K.; Pearson Engineering; Horstman Defence; and Soucy Defense.

Hanwha is leading the team to bid for the MFP programme aimed at procuring up to 116 self-propelled guns for the British Army.

During the visit, the delegates took a tour of the K9 production line in Changwon, about 300 kilometers south of Seoul, to learn the manufacturing details, indicating the potential for a K9 facility in the U.K.

The K9 is a 155mm/52-calibre tracked artillery platform, which is in service with seven countries around the world, including NATO countries such as Poland, Norway, and Estonia.

The platform offers sustained 360-degree firing solutions, delivering consistent, accurate, rapid effects at +40km range with high rates and volumes of fire, including Multiple Round Simultaneous Impact.

“This is a very meaningful and exciting opportunity for Team Thunder partners to gather in Korea and learn the manufacturing capability of the K9, the world’s most favoured self-propelled gun,” Hanwha Aerospace Director Sun Wi said.

“Together as Team Thunder, we are establishing ways of manufacturing K9s in the U.K. in support of the MFP programme,” said the director who is in MFP programme at Hanwha Aerospace Land Systems Business Group.

Team Thunder is offering the latest version of K9A2 to the Royal Artillery.

The K9A2 is equipped with a fully automatic ammunition handling system and is capable of firing nine to 10 rounds per minute with three crewmembers.

The British variant of the K9A2 is expected to be fitted with the Composite Rubber Track, enabling faster movement for shoot-and-scoot operations and lower noise and vibration levels to enhance survivability and ride quality for the crew while extending battlefield coverage.

“The K9A2 is the most advanced and credible artillery platform for the U.K.’s MFP programme, offering a ‘tried, tested and trusted’ solution,” said Pasi Pasivirta, director of Business Development Europe for Hanwha Aerospace Land Systems Business Group.

“The need to outpace and outfight adversaries has been reinforced by recent geopolitical events.”

There are over 1,700 units already in service with seven NATO and allied nations, including Turkey, Poland, Norway, and Estonia.

More recently, Australia and Egypt have joined the K9 User Club, bringing the number of K9 customer countries to nine, while Poland signed a framework agreement in July 2022 to procure over 600 more K9s.