On February 23, 12 K9 Thunder self-propelled howitzers were handed over in Jaroslaw. After the first tranche delivered to Wegorzewo in December last year, this is a second delivery of Korean self-propelled howitzers to the Polish Armed Forces and at the same time the first of several planned for 2023. The self-propelled howitzers ordered in the Republic of South Korea were delivered by sea to the port of Gdynia, and then, after unloading, were transported by land to Jaros?aw, where they were equipped with the 14th self-propelled artillery squadron of the 21st Podhale Rifle Brigade. The first tranche of 24 K9 Thunder self-propelled howitzers was handed over to the soldiers of the 11th Masurian Artillery Regiment from W?gorzewo on December 12, 2022.
The above deliveries are carried out under the executive contract of August 26, 2022, worth USD 2.4 billion net, concluded between the Armament Agency and Hanwha Defense, according to which 212 K9A1 self-propelled howitzers will be delivered to the Polish Armed Forces in the years 2022-2026. A number of improvements have been introduced in the K9A1 version. The main emphasis was placed on increasing the effectiveness and firing range to 54 km, improving situational awareness and increasing the comfort of the crew. It is worth mentioning that the K9A1 howitzers contracted as part of the first stage are equipped with Polish communication systems and the TOPAZ integrated combat management system.
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. Its main armament is a 155 mm cannon with a length of 52 calibres which, depending on the type of ammunition, ensures precise firing at distances of over 40 km. Auxiliary armament is a 12.7 mm heavy machine gun. K9 armor provides protection against small arms and artillery fragments. The drive is a diesel engine with a power of 1000 HP with an automatic gearbox, which ensure high speed and mobility in any terrain. The weight of the howitzer is 47 tons.
In December 2014, Samsung Techwin signed a cooperation agreement with Huta Stalowa Wola to supply K9 Thunder chassis for AHS Krab self-propelled howitzer. The deal is worth $310 million for 120 chassis, which includes related technology transfer and the power pack. From 2015 to 2022, 24 units will be manufactured in South Korea, and 96 will be license produced in Poland. On 27 July 2022, Polish Armaments Group (PGZ) and Hanwha Defense signed a framework agreement to supply 672 K9PL. Hanwha Defense hopes to expand the deal plus adding K10 ARV and K11 FDCV support vehicles. Poland will also produce AHS Krab in parallel; however, due to the low production capability, the deliveries of the existing order will be completed by 2026.