For the first time in Europe, Hanwha Defense will be exhibiting the most up-to-date version of the K9 Thunder Self-Propelled Howitzer (SPH) at DVD 2022, which will take place on 21st and 22ND September at UTAC Millbrook. During the biennial defence exhibition, the South Korean defence giant will demonstrate how the platform is the most credible solution for the UK Mobile Fires Platform (MFP) programme, offering a tried, tested and trusted solution.
For the MFP programme, Hanwha Defense has formed “Team Thunder,” a unique international partnership with defence manufacturers in the UK to develop and produce a local and advanced variant of the K9, the world’s most proven SPH in service with nine countries around the globe, including NATO members and UK allies.
Team Thunder currently includes Lockheed Martin UK, Leonardo, Pearson Engineering, Horstman Defence Systems, and Soucy Defense. The team is bidding to supply 116 self-propelled howitzers to the Royal Artillery as part of the Ministry of Defence’s MFP Programme. Team Thunder will be focused on maximising the benefits of this partnership to the UK and is fully committed to creating hundreds of new highly-skilled jobs in the UK supply chain as well as local training programmes and veteran employment. Many of these jobs will be located in former industrial heartlands, with a significant proportion of jobs created in the North East of England as well as in Scotland.
Sustained military advantage
The need to outpace and outfight our enemies has been reinforced by the conflict in Ukraine. The criticality of the deep battle is being re-learnt; range and precision of effects will be key. The K9 is a tracked platform allowing genuine, sustained 360-degree firing solutions, delivering consistent, accurate, rapid effect with high rates and volumes of fire, including Multiple Round Simultaneous Impact (MRSI).
The K9 is an advanced, 52 calibre, 155mm SPH with high levels of firepower, mobility, serviceability, survivability and automation, delivering accurate, rapid and consistent artillery effects at 40km and beyond with all current Joint Ballistic Memorandum of Understanding (JBMOU) ammunitions and with growth for Tactical Guided Munition (TGM), Base Bleed (BB) and Rocket-assisted Projectile (RAP).
The artillery is optimal for rapid ‘in to’ and ‘out of’ action, coupled with high levels of tactical mobility and automation. The K9 carries 48 rounds, more than many other SPHs, providing a significantly enhanced number of missions. Given there may be a need for a platform to carry several different natures, this increased capacity greatly enhances the number and types of missions an individual platform may conduct.
The K9A2 is moreover an artillery game changer, delivering opportunities for novel artillery employment, enabling fast moving, shoot and scoot operations, to enhance survivability and extend battlefield coverage.
The British variant of K9A2 SPH will be fitted with a full-automatic turret that can handle ammunition feeding, loading, and propellant charge 100% automatically. With the automatic turret, the K9A2 will be capable of firing up to 10 rounds per minute.
Equipped with innovative Composite Rubber Tracks (CRT), the K9A2 will get the benefits associated with wheels while providing greater mobility than a steel track system when it’s needed most. CRT is said to be up to 50% lighter than steel tracks, increasing the vehicle’s performance whilst benefiting from a lower rolling resistance; an increased top speed; reduced noise and vibrations; and lower fuel consumption.
The K10 automated ammunition re-supply vehicle utilising human and machine teaming, also extends freedom of action, survivability and mission longevity, particularly in a contested and degraded environment. The K10 will enable ammunition replenishment of the K9A2 in all conditions in a survivable environment.
Geopolitical events are reigniting the need to work together to secure our global peace. Shared operation of K9 SPH among NATO members will allow the UK to lead the forward basing of its forces and equipment in Europe. The current K9 user community of nine nations including NATO members, such as Poland, Norway and Estonia, provides significant strategic and operational opportunities for international collaboration, from interoperability benefits, to through life operating and upgrade efficiencies.
Integration with NATO allies will be a force multiplier for the UK and a presence within the K9 User Group promotes international interoperability, exportability and enhances the use of common data standards and open architectures with international partners and allies.
If the UK’s plans for forward basing in Europe are endorsed, the K9A2 SPH will ensure freedom of access and manoeuvre through a constant global presence. This will be supported by the K9 User Group where Hanwha expects the existing fleet to be upgraded to the K9A2 standard.
As soon as it is in service, the K9A2 SPH can immediately function in synergy with current UK military capabilities, easily integrate into overseas battlegroups, and contribute to a wider international long-range fires partnership and strategy. The British K9A2 will become a solid asset in the toolbox for multi-domain operations, with full integration with the Fire Control Battlefield Information System Application (FC BISA) provided by CGI.
Supporting UK Industry
In establishing Team Thunder, Hanwha has made a long-term commitment to the UK. As part of this commitment, Hanwha will transfer a large portion of the K9A2 manufacture to the UK, leveraging its Team Thunder partner companies – which is expected to create and sustain thousands of jobs.
In addition, Hanwha intends to establish a K9 Centre of Excellence in the UK to deliver seamless logistics support and sovereign capability to the British Army. Moreover, Team Thunder will work together with more local small/ medium sized (SMEs) and tech companies to maximize economic benefits to UK industry.
Focusing on leveraging the competitive edge of SMEs, specifically in the defence sector, Hanwha will strive to build up and promote the competitiveness of SMEs that have niche or essential defence capabilities needed by the UK and its allies. These SMEs will be more than ‘nuts and bolts’ manufacturers, they will have cross-sector opportunities, and as part of Team Thunder, they will contribute to the sustainment of the UK defence industrial base to enable it to compete in the global defence market.
The Team Thunder partnership has also been established to win export orders and with the potential for the UK to become a regional hub within the global supply chain for K9 upgrades. Many of the K9 customer nations such as Australia, Finland, Norway, Estonia and Poland are expected to require the upgrade of their K9 artillery systems to the K9A2 standard or beyond, which will create significant opportunities for export and cost sharing across the user base.
Team Thunder – Proven Capability. Made in the UK. By Experts.