Hanwha K9 Thunder 155mm Howitzer Tops Global Artillery Military Market


Seoul, South Korea, October 18, 2023 - AT the Aerospace and Defense Exhibition (ADEX) 2023, which takes place in Seoul, South Korea, the South Korean army showcases the locally-made K9 Thunder 155mm tracked self-propelled howitzer alongside its K10 ammunition resupply vehicle manufactured by Hanwha Aerospace. The event underscores the K9's meteoric rise to become one of the most sought-after 155mm howitzers on the global military artillery market.
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South Korean army displays the K9A1 155mm tracked self-propelled howitzer at ADEX 2023, Aerospace and Defense Exhibition in Seoul, South Korea. (Picture source Army Recognition)


The K9 Thunder 155mm self-propelled howitzer, a testament to South Korean defense innovation, is not just a point of pride for the country but has also found favor across the world. Currently, the artillery piece is in active service with seven countries: Estonia, India, Finland, Norway, Poland, South Korea, and Turkey. In addition, Australia and Egypt signed contracts in 2022 to procure K9 howitzers for deployments in the coming years.

With over 1,800 platforms in service globally, which accounts for over 50 percent of the global Howitzer market, the K9 user community of nine nations including key NATO members (Poland, Norway, Estonia, Finland) provides significant strategic and operational opportunities for international collaboration from interoperability benefits and through life operating and upgrade efficiencies.

Each of these nations has recognized the K9's superior capabilities, making it a staple in their respective military arsenals.

The howitzer's popularity doesn't stop there. Several other nations, including Romania, the United Kingdom, and Vietnam, have expressed keen interest in acquiring the K9, signaling its continued dominance in the global artillery military market.

The K9's success story is emblematic of South Korea's growing influence in the defense sector. With its state-of-the-art technology and unmatched firepower, the K9 has set a new benchmark for artillery systems worldwide. Its pairing with the K10 ammunition resupply vehicle at ADEX 2023 further highlighted the holistic approach South Korea has taken in ensuring that its military hardware is both powerful and sustainable on the battlefield.

The K9 Thunder self-propelled howitzer is a prime example of cutting-edge innovation in the military artillery market. Originating from South Korea, this 155mm/52-caliber self-propelled howitzer boasts an impressive firing range of approximately 40 km with standard ammunition. With rocket-assisted projectiles, this range can extend up to 50 km or more, offering significant tactical flexibility on the battlefield.

One of the standout features of the K9 is its capability for a multiple rounds simultaneous impact (MRSI) firing mode. This advanced firing mode allows the howitzer to release several rounds in quick succession, each with different trajectories, ensuring they all converge on the target simultaneously. Complementing this capability is the state-of-the-art fire control system, which can swiftly compute firing solutions. This ensures rapid target acquisition and engagement, a crucial factor in modern warfare.

Mobility is another area where the K9 excels. Built on a tracked platform, it demonstrates exceptional off-road mobility, making it an ideal companion for modern mechanized forces. The powerful engine, combined with an advanced suspension system, ensures the K9 can navigate a wide range of terrains. In terms of protection, the K9 doesn't compromise. It is fortified with composite armor, providing a robust defense against conventional threats. Additionally, the onboard nuclear, biological, and chemical (NBC) protection system offers a shield against non-conventional hazards, ensuring the safety of the crew.

The K9 howitzer also incorporates an automatic loading system, a feature that not only reduces the workload of the crew but also enhances the artillery's rate of fire. The design's inherent modularity allows for easy upgrades and modifications. As new technologies emerge in the defense sector, the K9 can be seamlessly updated, ensuring its relevance in the ever-evolving battlefield. This adaptability is further evidenced by its success in the international market, leading to the creation of various customized versions tailored to different countries' specific needs.

Other noteworthy features include an Auxiliary Power Unit (APU), which allows the crew to operate onboard systems without the need for the main engine. This is especially vital for stealth operations and situations demanding prolonged system usage. Furthermore, the K9's design emphasizes interoperability, ensuring it can integrate with advanced communication and targeting systems. This integration capability ensures the K9 operates cohesively with other assets on the battlefield, making it a formidable and versatile piece of artillery in modern warfare.

In addition, the K9 has a robust growth potential to be modified and upgraded to meet the requirements of future battlefields and customer needs. For instance, the current K9A1 is to be upgraded to the K9A2 to be equipped with a fully automatic ammunition handling system for an increased fire rate of nine to 10 rounds per minute. The K9A2 is also to be equipped with a variety of innovative technologies including the Composite Rubber Track and Remote-Controlled Weapons Systems.


Defense News October 2023