SEUL South Korea Hanwha Defense has signed a contract to supply the Australian Army with advanced self-propelled howitzers and ammunition supply vehicles.
The deal is worth about $ 730 million, representing the highest value export of the Hanwhas K9 self-propelled howitzer, nicknamed Thunder and known in Australia as the AS9.
The signing was witnessed by South Korean President Moon Jae-in and his Australian counterpart, Prime Minister Scott Morrison, on December 13 at the House of Parliament in Canberra, Australia, as the two countries marked the 60th anniversary of diplomatic ties.
Under contact for the Land 8116 acquisition project, Hanwha Defense Australia will produce 30 AS9 Huntsman self-propelled guns and 15 AS10 armored ammunition supply vehicles for delivery between 2025 and 2027 at its facility in Geelong, Victoria.
With Australia’s proximity to South Korea and strong bilateral relations between the two countries, the Australian Hanwhas facility will become a critical and important secondary supply line for South Korea, assists Richard Cho, Managing Director of Hanwha Defense Australia, who was founded. in 2019. He added that the Australian industrial base will help Hanwha fulfill contracts in other parts of the world and provide the capacity to engage with Five Eyes, an intelligence alliance composed of the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada and New Zealand.
Australian Defense Minister Peter Dutton was convinced that buying the Huntsman family’s vehicles would help boost the capabilities of the Australian forces. The main capability of the new vehicles is to shoot and move quickly, avoiding enemy counterattack, the minister said. This project will mean a significant increase in the level of firepower and safety for Australian artillery capability.
The Hanwhas K9 features a proven 155mm / 52 caliber weapon in service with seven countries around the world: South Korea, Turkey, Poland, India, Finland, Norway and Estonia. About 1700 K9 variants are in use among these countries. Negotiations are underway between Hanwha and the Egyptian government for K9.
The K9 has a range of 40 miles more with conventional 155 mm ammunition. It can move at speeds up to 67 km / h. Equipped with an automatic fire control system, the howitzer can fire within 30 seconds from a stationary position and within 60 seconds while on the move.
Based on the K9 features, the AS9 Huntsman will be built specifically to meet Australian Army requirements by adding upgraded armor and radar to find weapons, according to Hanwha officials.
The AS10 will also have better armored protection compared to the classic K10 ammunition supply vehicle. Hanwha also established a partnership with Kongsberg to integrate tactical communication systems and battle management systems for Huntsman.
Howitzer Self-propelled capability, including a strengthened industrial base, is one of several projects that will modernize the Australian Army, ensuring that it continues to maintain a capability advantage now and in the future, Dutton said.
Australian Defense Industry Minister Melissa Price expressed hope that the AS9 facility would bring economic benefits to the local industry by creating hundreds of local jobs and becoming a national asset for military capabilities.
Earlier this year, Hanwha Defense formed Team Thunder with UK suppliers to compete for the British Army’s Mobile Fire Platform program. A request for proposals for the program is expected to be published as early as 2022. Team Thunder includes Pearson Engineering, Horstman Defense Systems, Leonardo in the UK and Canadas Soucy Defense.
Hanwha Defense is offering the newest K9A2 weapon, which is still under development. The K9A2 will be equipped with a fully automated ammunition loading system capable of firing 9-10 rounds per minute. Other advanced technologies under consideration include composite rubber tracks and mine protection kits.
With advanced K9 technologies, including an automatic charger, Hanwha Defense is also seeking to participate in the U.S. Army’s extended-range artillery program. The company plans to take the K9 artillery to Yuma Proving Ground, Arizona, to demonstrate its performance and compatibility with US ammunition.
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