South Korea’s K9 Thunder and K10 Selected for Australian Army

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By Isaak Zulkarnaen

CANBERRA: South Korea’s Hanwha Defense K9 Self-Propelled Howitzer (SPH) system has been selected for the Australian Army’s Protected Mobile Fires project.

The Government’s commitment to build 30 self-propelled howitzers is progressing on schedule with the release of a Request for Tender in September 2020, Minister for Defence, Linda Reynolds said Sept 3.

The Request for Tender for the Protected Mobile Fires project will be released to preferred supplier Hanwha Defence Australia, to build and maintain 30 self-propelled howitzers and 15 armoured ammunition resupply vehicles, and their supporting systems.

Minister Reynolds said it marks a key step in progressing the project.  “Through this project, this Government is delivering the capability Army needs while creating local jobs in and around Geelong that will grow our highly skilled workforce,” Minister Reynolds said.

“This comes at an important time as Victoria deals with its latest outbreak of COVID-19.“The acquisition of this capability will provide the ADF with the mobility, lethality and protection required to support Joint Force operations in the land domain.

“The self-propelled howitzers will be built in the Geelong region, with ongoing deep maintenance conducted in the same Australian facility to support the systems throughout their service life.”

The Request for Tender will progress this first phase of the Protected Mobile Fires capability. Together with the subsequent phases announced in the 2020 Force Structure Plan, it will ensure a long-term future for industry’s involvement in the delivery of this critical capability for the ADF.

Minister for Defence Industry, Melissa Price said the Morrison Government is committed to maximising opportunities for Australian industry.

“This project builds on our efforts to strengthen Australia’s Defence industry capability, and represents a program of continuous investment well into the next decade in the Geelong region,” Minister Price said. 

“This project is expected to create up to 350 jobs to build and maintain the new vehicles. It will also provide significant opportunities in other areas such as transport and warehousing, as well as component manufacture and repair.

Senator for Victoria, Sarah Henderson said opportunities in the local Geelong area extend through the supply chain.“These opportunities will include future mid-life upgrades, harnessing emerging technologies to enhance the protection, firepower and mobility of Australia’s protected mobile fires capability,” Senator Henderson said.

LAND 8116 Phase 2, announced in the 2020 Force Structure Plan, is anticipated to commence in the late 2020s, delivering additional Protected Mobile Fires capability, and LAND 8116 Phase 3 is anticipated to commence in the mid-2030s, delivering a mid-life upgrade that will provide an opportunity to incorporate emerging technologies.

“The latest decision by the Australian Government to consider acquisition of K9 SPHs as the preferred solution is evident of the systems excellent performance around the world and the faith that the Commonwealth of Australia has placed in Hanwha Defense Australia to deliver this new capability to the Australian Army,” Hanwha Defense CEO Lee Sung-soo said.

With the selection, supplier Hanwha Defense Australia (HDA) is set to submit a tender in response to the Land 8116 SPH procurement programme, which has a budget of up to $842 million (AUD $1.3 billion). It will build and maintain 30 K9 SPHs and 15 K10 armoured ammunition resupply vehicles (AARVs), along with their supporting systems. The K10 AARV is an enhanced version of the existing K10 ARV in terms of armour protection.

 “This is a tremendous outcome for our company and we very much appreciate the Commonwealth placing their trust in Hanwha for this opportunity,” said Richard Cho, managing director of HDA. “By beginning this journey with Hanwha, the Commonwealth will reap the benefits of being part of a global community of more than 2,400 K9/K10 SPH systems worldwide with all of the sustainment, training, and global supply opportunities that this will bring.”

The SPH is a 52 calibre, 155 mm platform capable of taking advantage of current and emerging 155mm munitions technologies. It has a crew of 4 or 5 depending on the configuration with an ammunition capacity of up to 48 rounds and accompanying modular charge systems. The K10 AARV is a largely robotised system built on the same chassis as the K9. It holds 104 rounds of 155mm ammunition and is designed to provide ammunition resupply under armour and forward to the Artillery unit. — kf/mhi/mgm