Lockheed Martin UK has entered into a teaming agreement with South Korea’s Hanwha Defense to join the “Team Thunder,” which is offering the K9 self-propelled howitzer for the British Army’s Mobile Fires Platform (MFP) program. The team, which also includes Pearson Engineering, Horstman Defence Systems, Leonardo UK, and Soucy Defense of the Soucy Group, is pitching the build of an advanced variant of the K9 SPH for the Royal Artillery. The offer is based on the local manufacturing of the K9A2, an advanced version that will be an upgrade of the existing 155mm/52-calibre K9A1. The upgrades will be related to improved lethality, mobility and survivability.
Hanwha Defense previously said the Team Thunder partnership was established with one eye on the export market with the potential for the UK to become a regional hub within the global supply chain of the 2,400 vehicles in the K9 family, including K10 ammunition resupply vehicles. The UK defense ministry’s MFP program is looking to procure up to 116 self-propelled howitzers. The preferred contractor for the delivery of the new capability will be revealed by 2025. MFP is part of the British Army’s plans to invest £800 million in its artillery capability as part of the most recent integrated defense and security review.
“We’re delighted to be working with Lockheed Martin UK as part of Team Thunder. The company’s Ampthill site in Bedfordshire is home to the country’s most advanced digital manufacturing facility in the defense sector,” said executive vice president Kim Dae-young, Head of Hanwha Defense’s Overseas Business Centre.
“Along with other Team Thunder partner’s expertise, specialty engineering, and digitally-enabled production facility will provide the modern capabilities needed to manufacture in-country, bring into service and support the K9A2,” Lee Fellows, vice president and managing director for Lockheed Martin UK’s Ampthill business, said.
The K9 Thunder is a South Korean 155 mm self-propelled 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. K9 howitzers operate in groups with the K10 automatic ammunition resupply vehicle variant. The entire K9 fleet operated by the ROK Armed Forces is now undergoing upgrades to K9A1, and further upgrade variant K9A2 is being tested for production. As of 2022, the K9 series has 69% market share of the global 155 mm self-propelled howitzer since the year 2000. The K9 tracked Howitzer is one of the most popular platforms of its type, and is already in service with seven countries, including NATO members such as Poland, Norway and Estonia.