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South Korea to mass produce extended-range projectiles for K9 howitzers

This infographic shows Poongsan's 155 mm shells for the K9 howitzer. A photograph of a cutaway version of the extended-range 155 mm shell appears at the bottom. (Janes/Akhil Kadidal)

South Korean metal and munition manufacturer Poongsan will initiate the mass production of the extended-range 155 mm artillery shells for the Hanwha Land Systems K9 Thunder self-propelled howitzers (SPHs) in 2024, a Poongsan official told Janes on 8 February.

Development and trials of the extended-range 155 mm shells were completed in 2023 and the company received a combat suitability certificate from the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) in July 2023, the official said.

The combat suitability certificate is required to initiate the mass production of any platform, equipment, or weapon in the South Korean defence procurement process.

DAPA ordered 2,000 extended-range 155 mm shells in 2023, which will be produced and delivered by the end of 2024, the official added.

“DAPA will also sign another contract with Poongsan later this year to procure additional shells and these additional shells will be manufactured in 2025,” the official said.

Poongsan started designing the 155 mm extended range munition (ERM) in 2014, and research and development (R&D) began in 2017.

The 155 mm ERM has a maximum strike range of 60 km, a 50% increase in range compared with the company's earlier K307 base burn/high explosive (BB/HE) shell, Janes said earlier.

According to Janes Land Warfare Platforms: Artillery & Air Defence,the standard conventional round for the K9 is the M107 HE round, which is manufactured by Hanwha under licence from General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems in the United States.

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