Arab International Optronics Company has signed an agreement with South Korean defense company Hanwha Defense Group for the transfer of Technology (TOT), local production of the Automatic Fire Control System (FCS) and other electronic components for the K9A1EGY 155 mm self-propelled howitzer. The production of the first K9A1EGY is expected in Q4 2022 with armor steel provided from Bisalloy Steel. Egypt and South Korea signed a USD1.65 billion contract during the International Defence Exhibition & Conference (IDEX) held in Abu Dhabi in February 2021. The first batch will be delivered to Egypt until 2024, while the rest will be produced in Egypt with a localization rate of 50%. Egypt is expecting to increase localization to 67% in five years.
The K9 Thunder is a South Korean 155 mm self-propelled howitzer designed and developed by the Agency for Defense Development and civil contractors including Dongmyeong Heavy Industries, Kia Heavy Industry, Poongsan Corporation, and Samsung Aerospace Industries for the Republic of Korea Armed Forces, and is now manufactured by Hanwha Defense. As of 2022, the K9 series has had a 52% share of the global self-propelled howitzer market, including wheeled vehicles, since the year 2000. 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 a further upgrade variant K9A2 is being tested for production.
The 46.3-tonne K9A1EGY is designed to provide an armoured force with the indirect fire required to defeat conventionally equipped opponents. Fitted with a 360 degrees rotating turret, the range of the system using standard ammunition is 18 km, but this can be extended to 30 km through rocket assisted projectiles, or to 40.6 km using advanced base-bleed ammunition, and a top speed of 67 km/h. The new K11 fire-control vehicle would also be developed for Egypt, which will receive an initial batch of howitzers made in South Korea in 2024, with the rest being locally produced. K11 FDCV (Fire Direction Control Vehicle) is a fire direction control vehicle based on K10 (automatic resupplying vehicle for K9 Thunder using the same chassis).
In 2010, K9 was evaluated by Egyptian military to replace the 170 M109A5s in Egypt’s inventory. However, the deal was delayed as Egyptian government requested a reduction on technology transfer fees, of which the Korean government had the ownership, not the company. In April 2017, it was reported that Hanwha Techwin was in negotiations with Egypt to export its K9 Thunder self-propelled howitzer. A K9 howitzer was sent to Egypt in July, and performed test-firing at a range located west of Cairo in August, along with other competitors including French CAESAR, Russian 2S35 Koalitsiya-SV, and Chinese PLZ-45. During the test, K9 hit the target ship approaching to the shore, successfully performing the access denial against enemy ships for the Egyptian Navy.