The K9 Self-Propelled Howitzer (SPH), developed by South Korea’s Hanwha Defense, has been selected as the preferred solution for the Australian Army’s Protected Mobile Fires project. On September 3, the Australian Government announced it will release a request for tender to preferred supplier Hanwha Defense Australia (HDA) to build and maintain 30 K9 SPHs and 15 K10 armoured ammunition resupply vehicles (AARVs), along with their supporting systems. The K10 AARV is an enhanced version of the existing K10 ARV in terms of armour protection. HDA is set to submit a tender in response to the SPH procurement program, codenamed Land 8116, which has a budget of up to AUD $1.3 billion (US $842 million).
“This is a tremendous outcome for our company and we very much appreciate the Commonwealth placing their trust in Hanwha for this opportunity. “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. This is a different approach to just building and exporting, which given the increasing trend of localization being demanded globally,” the managing director said. “With this Government announcement, work will commence immediately to implement our plan for the building of facilities and skilling of the local Geelong based work force,” said Richard Cho, managing director of HDA.
As part of efforts to help expand the Australian defense industrial base, Hanwha Defense is committed to building the vehicles in the Geelong region and growing local skills, Cho said, adding the envisioned Geelong facility is expected to serve as an alternative sustainment and supply chain base for the global K9 family of vehicles. The project is expected to create up to 350 jobs to build and maintain the new vehicles, providing significant opportunities in other areas such as transport and warehousing, as well as component manufacture and repair. The transfer of IP and know-how to enable Australian Industry to, in the long term, allow for local design, engineering and manufacturing will be the most essential part of plans focused on developing the industrial base required for a sovereign capability.
Hanwha plans to develop the “Huntsman” family of vehicles comprising of the K9 SPH and K10 AARV to deliver a complete mission. The SPH is a 52 calibre, 155 mm platform capable of taking advantage of current and emerging 155mm munitions technologies. It has a crew of 4 or 5 depending on the configuration with an ammunition capacity of up to 48 rounds and accompanying modular charge systems. The K10 AARV is a largely robotized system built on the same chassis as the K9. It holds 104 rounds of 155mm ammunition and is designed to provide ammunition resupply under armour and forward to the Artillery unit. Hanwha Defense has set new standards for the global defense industry by offering a huge lineup of products ranging from world-renowned artillery systems; armored vehicles; air defense systems; and unmanned ground systems.