Production of the South Korean Hanwha Land Systems K9 Thunder 155 mm/52 calibre self-propelled artillery system and its associated K10 Ammunition Resupply Vehicle (ARV) has now passed 2,000 units for the home and export markets, and production is expected to continue to at least 2021.
The K9 Thunder was originally developed to meet Republic of Korea Army (RoKA) requirements for significantly increased range and firepower compared with its large fleet of locally manufactured BAE Systems 155 mm/39 calibre M109A2 SP artillery systems.
In addition to being in service with the RoKA, export sales of the K9 Thunder have been made to Estonia (12 refurbished systems to be delivered), Finland (48 refurbished systems to be delivered), India (first complete systems were supplied new from South Korea, followed by local production), Norway (24 new systems to be delivered), Poland (hulls for local Krab), and Turkey (a locally built version called the Firtina).
Hanwha Land Systems confirmed that trials of the K9 Thunder SP artillery system have also been undertaken in Australia, Egypt, Malaysia, Spain, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Later this year a K9 Thunder will undergo firing trials at Yuma Proving Ground in the United States using the recently type classified NAMMO 155 mm High-Explosive Extended Range (HE-ER) projectile fitted with a Northrop Grumman Armament Systems Precision Guidance Kit (PGK).
The NAMMO 155 mm HE-ER has a screw-on base bleed (BB) unit that enables a maximum range of 40 km (25 mi).
Future improvements to the K9 Thunder will have two phases. The first phase is to install an auxiliary power unit (APU) that enables the sub-systems to be run when the main diesel engine is off. There will also be improvements to the computerised fire control system (FCS).
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