On the export trail [ID18D3]

09 November 2018

The K9 Thunder 155mm/52 calibre self-propelled (SP) artillery system of South Korea's Hanwha Land Systems (Hall D, Stand D265A) will continue in production until at least 2021 and the company is now seeking additional export contracts to keep the production line running after this date.

While the K9 Thunder was originally developed to meet the operational requirements of the South Korean Army, it has already had a significant impact on the export market, often beating the German PzH 2000 155mm/52 calibre SP artillery system to win major contracts.

So far, export sales have been made to Estonia, Finland, India, Norway, Poland and Turkey. Some of these are brand-new systems, while others have been older systems upgraded and with local production in Turkey (complete system, as the Firtina), India (complete system followed by local production) and Poland (hull for the local Crab 155m/52 calibre turret).

Because the system has an onboard fire control and land navigation system, it can come into action, carry out a fire mission and then redeploy before any counter-battery fire. It can also carry out multiple-round simultaneous-impact fire missions.

A burst rate of fire of three rounds in less than 15 seconds can be achieved with a maximum rate of fire of 6-8 rounds/minute for three minutes; a total of 48 x 155mm projectiles and associated modular charges are carried.

The 155mm/52 calibre ordnance has a 23-litre chamber that meets the NATO Joint Ballistic Memorandum of Understanding.

Maximum range depends on the projectile/ charge combination. When firing the old 155mm M107 high-explosive (HE) projectile, the maximum range is only 18km, but firing the more recent locally developed 155mm K315 HE rocket-assisted projectile extends the range to 50km.

To supply the K9 Thunder with new ammunition, the company has developed and placed in production the K10 Ammunition Resupply Vehicle, which is based on the same hull.

(308 words)