With more than 1,700 variants of the K9 Self-Propelled Howitzer (SPH) in service with nine countries, there is a growing need for the artillery users to share their experiences and know-how of operating the world’s most proven artillery solution. The first K9 User Community will be held this April in the city of Changwon, the home turf of the K9 Thunder in South Korea.
Manufacturer of the K9 SPH, Hanwha Defense has sent out an invitation to the armies of the K9 user countries, including Finland, Norway and Estonia. Australia, which signed a contract in December 2021 to produce the AS9 Huntsman, was also invited to the upcoming event to be hosted by the South Korean Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA).
“The K9 User Club meeting in Changwon will be an inaugural event for the K9 users to learn from each other and share experience on how to get the best out of the equipment and how to train best for the artillery solution,” said Pasi Pasivirta, European business development director of Hanwha Defense. “All participants can take advantage of the venue to find the optimised operation and sustainment doctrine of the K9 artillery gun with their knowledge and know-how.”
Delegates at the meeting would include representatives from the armies, logistics and maintenance organisations of the member countries, while local industry partners related to the supply and production of the K9 SPHs have also been invited to the Changwon meeting to address potential opportunities for industrial cooperation.
One of the local industry partners, Australia’s Universal Motion Simulation specialised in developing vehicle motion simulators will have an opportunity to pitch their driving simulation solution and capability. In 2021 the company signed anMoU with Hanwha Defense Australia for involvement in international markets for the K9 SPH.
The K9 user meeting is to have multiple working group sessions, such as on operation, training and maintenance, where each participant can share its unique experience and knowledge accrued from the operation of the K9 artillery solution.
Developed in 1998 by the South Korean Agency for Defense Development and Hanwha Defense, the K9 was designed primarily to meet the tactical concept of “Shoot and Scoot,” which means a gun moves to a firing position to complete a fire mission and then leaves the firing position before an enemy can counter it. The 47-ton K9 has a firing range of 40+ km with conventional 155 ammunition and it can move as fast as 67 km/h. Equipped with an automatic fire control system, the howitzer can fire within 30 seconds from a stationary position and within 60 seconds while on move. A burst rate of fire of three rounds can be achieved in less than 15 seconds, with a maximum rate of fire from six to eight rounds per minute continuously for three minutes.
The K9 is by far the world’s most popular self-propelled howitzer as nine countries _ South Korea, Turkey, Poland, India, Finland, Norway, Estonia, Australia and Egypt _ have introduced the artillery system. Australia and Egypt are the latest customers of the K9. Australia signed a US$730-million-worth contract in December 2021 to locally produce 30 AS9 Huntsman SPHs and 15 Armoured Ammunition Supply Vehicles under the LAND 8116 project. Egypt inked a US$1.7 billion contract in February 2022 to introduce hundreds of K9A1EGY SPHs and other support vehicles.