Hanwha Aerospace signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Romania’s state-run defense company Romarm SA to export its K9 self-propelled howitzer (SPH) and infantry fighting vehicle (IFV). The MOU with Romarm SA concerns the provision and maintenance of the K9 and Redback IFVs, although the size and duration of the preliminary agreement were not disclosed. In a ceremony attended by executives of Hanwha Aerospace and Romarm and government officials, Romania’s Economy Minister Florin Marian Spataru welcomed the MOU, saying that the government will offer its full support to strengthen its footing in the defense industry.
The announcement came as European nations — many of them being members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) ? are upping military budgets amid a prolonged war between Russia and Ukraine. Government officials from Romania visited Korea three times over the last five months to explore potential partnerships, touring a main production site of Hanwha Aerospace in Changwon. If the memorandum of understanding progresses into future exports, the K9 self-propelled howitzer could build a reputation as a proven provider of weapons as it is deployed in 10 countries around the world. Other NATO members like Norway, Finland and Estonia also bought the K9 howitzer from Hanwha.
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.
Hanwha Defense, whose defense unit is now merged with Hanwha Aerospace, sold 212 K9 howitzers costing a total of 3.2 trillion won ($2.5 billion) last year. A contract for a second batch of 460 howitzers is being negotiated. The K9 series has had a 52% share of the global self-propelled howitzer market, including wheeled vehicles, since the year 2000.
The main armament is a CN98 155 mm, 52-calibre artillery gun manufactured by Kia Heavy Industry (now Hyundai WIA),with a maximum firing range of 40 kilometres (25 mi) with K307 rounds. Or 54 kilometres (34 mi) with K315 rounds fired from the upgraded K9A1 variant. The K9 stores 24 rounds in the bustle rack while an additional 24 rounds are located at the rear of the hull. Assisted by a semi-automatic feeding system, fire control system, and the Battalion Tactical Command System (BTCS), the vehicle can burst fire three rounds in 15 seconds, with the ability to land shells in multiple rounds simultaneous impact (MRSI) mode.