Hanwha Techwin (Hall 5, Stand K460) has brought its K9 Thunder 155mm/52 calibre self-propelled artillery system to Eurosatory because this is competing for at least one European self-propelled artillery requirement. The Republic of Korea was the first army in Asia to field a 155mm/52 calibre self-propelled system.
K9 Thunder has a high rate of fire because the ordnance is fed by a bustle-mounted automatic loader that loads the selected type of 155mm projectile, which is then rammed using a flick rammer. The 155mm charges, which can be of the older bag type or the more recent modular charge system type, are loaded manually.
The system has a burst rate of fire of three rounds in 15 seconds, which is a key Republic of Korea requirement, and a maximum rate of fire of six to eight rounds a minute for three minutes. The maximum range depends on the type of projectile and charge combination.
Firing the old 155mm M107 high-explosive projectile, a maximum range of 18km is achieved; this is increased to 30km when firing a M549A1 high-explosive rocket-assisted projectile. Firing a 155mm extended-range projectile, a maximum range of 41.8km is achieved. A total of forty-eight 155mm artillery projectiles are carried plus associated charges.
K9 Thunder has a computerised automatic fire control system coupled to a modular azimuth and positioning system. This reduces its times into and out of action and therefore enhances its survivability to counter battery fire.
A muzzle velocity radar is mounted above the rear of the 155mm/52 calibre ordnance and this feeds information to the fire control system to help increase accuracy.
The K9 Thunder is supported by the K10 ammunition resupply vehicle (ARV), which is based on the same chassis as the K9 and has similar mobility.
The K10 ARV feeds 155mm projectiles and associated charges to the K9 via an electrically operated telescopic arm at up to ten 155mm rounds a minute.
The first export customer for the K9 Thunder was the Turkish Land Forces Command, which deploys the system under the local name of the Firtina. This is manufactured in Turkey and it is understood that more than 300 have now been produced.
India is a potential customer for the K9 Thunder, while two hulls are being provided to Poland for use with the Krab 152mm/52 calibre self-propelled artillery systems. These will be followed by a further 22 production hulls and then technical transfer for local production in Poland.