Hanwa Defense K9 Thunder Self-Propelled Howitzer
Hanwa Defense K9 Thunder Self-Propelled Howitzer

Australia Army to Procure Additional Regiment of Self-Propelled Howitzers (SPH)

The Australian Government has committed to acquiring an additional regiment of Self-Propelled Howitzers and Supporting Vehicles for the Australian Army as part of Australian efence’s Force Structure Plan 2020. Following yesterday’s announcement builds on the first phase of 30 Protected Mobile Fires the Australian Government committed to in May 2019. The Armoured Ammunition Resupply Vehicles share common components with the protected mobile fires platforms, meaning the same skilled workforce in the sovereign and enduring Geelong facility can build them and undertake deep maintenance. The capability will be acquired under a second phase of LAND 8116 and will be built and maintained in Geelong, Victoria.

Minister for Defence, Senator the Hon Linda Reynolds CSC said “The Morrison Government is focused on maximising opportunities for Australian industry and is extremely proud of its commitment to build and sustain this capability in Geelong. This acquisition will double the number of operational platforms being delivered under LAND 8116, providing the Australian Defence Force with a critical artillery capability. Both phases of LAND 8116, will include supporting Armoured Ammunition Resupply Vehicles, which will also be built in Geelong.Compared to existing resupply vehicles, the Armoured Ammunition Resupply Vehicles will offer far higher protection for the resupply crew and shorter reloading time through the use of an automated ammunition transfer system.”

Australian Army’s Royal Regiment of Australian Artillery (RAA) M777 Lightweight Towed Howitzer (Photo: Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence)

In essence, Project LAND 8116 Protected Mobile Fires requirement covering much of the same ground as the LAND 17 Artillery Replacement Programme that was cancelled in 2012. LAND 17 is intended to enhance the Australian Army indirect fire support system through the replacement or upgrade of the 105mm Hamel Howitzer and 155mm M198 Howitzer fleets when they reach the end of their service life. The goal for the project is to provide Army with new protected self propelled guns, new lightweight towed guns, and a digitised, networked, artillery Battle Management System. This project achieved First Pass approval on 14 February 2006, to explore the acquisition of not less than two batteries of protected self-propelled howitzers, not more than four batteries of lightweight towed howitzers, precision guided munitions and a digitised, networked Battle Management System.

The Hanwha K9 155/52mm self-propelled gun system had been offered for LAND 17 and was apparently highly thought of. Now it appears that a new variant K9 optimised for LAND 8116, along with the K10 Ammunition Resupply Vehicle (ARSV), based on the same chassis, are being offered for the new artillery requirement. The Hanwha proposal is said to cover over 30 K9 guns and more than 10 K10 ARSV. As the K9 and K10 share the same automotive elements as the K21/AS21 there are commonality advantages between the vehicles, and Hanwha would look to manufacture the K9 and K10 at their Geelong facility. The K9 Thunder is a South Korean self-propelled 155 mm howitzer designed and developed by the Agency for Defense Development and Samsung Aerospace Industries for the Republic of Korea Armed Forces, and is now manufactured by Hanwha Defense.

Norway K9 Vidar Self-Propelled Howtitzer and K10 Ammunition Resupply Vehicle