Representatives from six countries operating the 155mm/52-calibre K9 Self-Propelled Howitzer (SPH) gathered in Narvik, Norway, on February 6 to attend the 2nd K9 User Club meeting. The meeting will be held until February 9. The K9 User Club was launched in April 2022 in Changwon, the K9 manufacturing hub in South Korea, to share experience, knowledge, and know-how on the operation, maintenance and training of the K9 SPH in service with seven countries – South Korea, Norway, Estonia, Finland, Poland, India and Türkiye. Australia and Egypt have also signed contracts to operate K9s in the coming years. For this year’s meeting, the first of its kind in Europe and among NATO countries, military representatives from South Korea, Norway, Finland, Estonia, Poland and Australia are sharing the status and plans for operating their K9 artillery, while Canada has joined the meeting as an observer.
Colonel Kjartan Søyland, Head of Norwegian School of Artillery and Army Air Defence said: “Compared to old guns we had, now we increase or double the range of our artillery systems. The K9 is easy to use and easy to educate and train, which is the key strength of the K9 Self-Propelled Howitzer. It also works well in the winter snowy conditions.” The K9 Thunder is the world’s most popular self-propelled howitzer with over 2,000 units are already in service around the globe. The tracked howitzer can deliver consistent, accurate, rapid effects at +40km range with high rates and volumes of fire. The K9 is particularly optimised for ‘Shoot-and-Scoot’ capability to fire multiple rounds and immediately move to a different location to avoid potential counter-fire.
Pasi Pasivirta, Director of European Business Development, Hanwha Aerospace, said: “The K9 users can learn from each other and share experience and know-how of operating the K9 Self-Propelled Howitzer to get the best out of the equipment. In this regard, the K9 User Club serves as the venue to find the most optimised operation and sustainment doctrine of the K9 system.”
Global defence companies, including Kongsberg from Norway, and CBG from Australia, also joined the user community to present technologies enhancing industry partnership and collaboration over the development of K9 artillery systems. On the second day of the user club meeting, the participants are joining working group sessions to discuss how to get the best out of the K9 systems with regards to maintenance, tactics and training. On the third day, the user group is scheduled to visit the Center of Excellence at Norway’s Bjerkvik Technical Workshop, and the Setermoen training area to observe the live-fire and manoeuvres of the Norwegian K9 Versatile Indirect Artillery (VIDAR) systems. Norway operates 24 K9s and 10 K10 ammunition resupply vehicles, with an additional contract signed in 2022 to procure four more K9s and 10 more K10s.
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. 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. 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. In September 2022, a K9A1 SPH and a K10 ARV demonstrated compatibility and live-fire with a variety of American munitions at Yuma Proving Ground in Arizona. The howitzer managed to fire 3 rounds in 16 seconds and 6 rounds in 43.3 seconds using the M795 projectiles. K9A1 became the first foreign platform to fire XM1113 RAP munition and achieved 53 km in shooting distance at an elevation of 900 mils.