SEOUL/CANBERRA: South Korea’s top defence manufacture Hanwha Defense announced today that it has signed US $788 million contract with Australia 30 units of the K-9 Thunder self-propelled howitzer.
The statement by the Seoul-based company said that the Australian Army will also acquire 15 units of K-10 armored ammunition re-supply vehicles and radars under the deal signed between the nation’s Capability Acquisition and Sustainment Group (CASG) and Hanwha Defense Australia.
The announcement came more than a year after Hanwha was named the sole preferred bidder for an Australian artillery gun procurement project. The signing ceremony came during a visit by South Korean President Moon Jae-in to the capital of Australia, Canberra meeting Prime Minister Scott Morrison. The South Korean president is the first foreign leader to visit Australia since the pandemic began.
South Korea’s Defence Programme Acquisition Administration (DAPA) and the CASG also inked a memorandum of understanding to expand ties in the arms procurement sector.
Australia is the seventh country to buy the South Korea-made howitzer. South Korea has exported around 600 units of the 155-millimeter K-9 artillery guns to Turkey, Poland, India, Norway, Finland and Estonia.
It was also reported that South Korea is in talks with Egypt as well to export the howitzer there which may give chance for the artillery system to make its first entry into the Middle Eastern and African market. DAPA further elaborate that through the contracts deal, both countries also agreed to promote the collaboration of different weapon systems based on the interoperability of the howitzers.
Part of the deal was also to build a howitzer factory in Greater Geelong, Victoria. The contract involves the procurement Self-Propelled Howitzers and Armoured Ammunition Resupply Vehicles, under the LAND 8116 Phase 1 project. The Government committed to this project in May 2019.
“Our Comprehensive Strategic Partnership with the Republic of Korea is underpinned by our joint commitment to defence and security cooperation. The contract with Hanwha demonstrates the value of industrial collaboration in supporting our countries in addressing mutual security challenges,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison said. “We are partnering with Hanwha to create an Armoured Vehicle Centre of Excellence in the Geelong region, which will establish a further strategic defence industry hub and future export opportunities for Australian businesses, he added. –KF/NA/MGM (Photo:Hanwha Defense)