The Australian government announced on 3 September that will release a sole-source request for tender (RfT) to Hanwha Defense Australia (HDA), the local subsidiary of South Korean conglomerate Hanwha Group, to build and maintain 30 K9 Thunder self-propelled howitzers (SPHs) and 15 K10 armoured ammunition resupply vehicles (AARVs) under the Australian Army’s Project LAND 8116 Phase 1 Protected Mobility Fires (PMF) requirement.
The 46-tonne K9 Thunder is a 155 mm/52-calibre SPH that can offer a sustained fire capability of three rounds/minute and a rapid-fire rate of eight rounds/minute. It is operated by crew of four or five personnel depending on the configuration and has ammunition capacity of up to 48 projectiles and associated modular charge systems.
Besides being the primary SPH platform for the Republic of Korea Army (RoKA), the K9 Thunder has been exported to countries including Estonia, Finland, India, Norway, and Turkey, with local manufacture undertaken within India and Turkey. The ordnance will be designated the K9 Huntsman in Australian Army service.
In contrast, the K10 AARV is designed specifically to provide battlefield sustainment of the K9 SPH and is based on the same hull. It is understood that the K10 can carry as many as 104 projectiles and accompanying charges, either as offboard replenishment for the K9 SPH or as an extended ‘magazine’ during a fire mission to conserve the SPH’s onboard ammunition. The K10 AARV is a version of the K10 ARV with improved armour protection.
“The acquisition of this capability will provide the ADF with the mobility, lethality and protection required to support Joint Force operations in the land domain,” Defence Minister Linda Reynolds said in a statement, noting that the SPHs will be built and sustained in the Geelong region.
“This is a tremendous outcome for our company and we very much appreciate the Commonwealth placing their trust in Hanwha for this opportunity,” said HDA Managing Director Richard Cho.
“By beginning this journey with Hanwha, the Commonwealth will reap the benefits of being part of a global community of more than 2,400 K9/K10 SPH systems worldwide with all of the sustainment, training, and global supply opportunities that this will bring,” Cho added, noting that the company will implement its plan to construct the necessary facilities and train the local workforce.
HDA also said the project is expected to create up to 350 jobs as well as opportunities in other areas including component manufacture and repair, and transport and warehousing.
by Jr Ng