South Korean K9 self-propelled howitzers made their Australian debut at Exercise Talisman Sabre, ahead of the planned construction of the Australian-variant AS9 Huntsman in Victoria late next year. Alongside the US HIMARS, the K9 made an impressive display at the firepower demonstration held at Shoalwater Bay Training Area on July 22.In another first for Australia’s largest military exercise, the Republic of Korea Armed Forces also brought the K239 Chunmoo multiple rocket launcher system to Queensland for Talisman Sabre. Ties between the two nations continue to grow after the government announced South Korean company Hanwa, which manufactures the K9 and Chunmoo MLRS, was awarded a contract to build Army’s new Redback infantry fighting vehicles.
The Australian Army Gunners could finally see the future direction of their corps up close. Gunner Max Hood, of 4th Regiment, Royal Australian Artillery said:“While it was the first time they’d seen the tracked howitzer, they had already begun practising drills based around self-propelled artillery. We’re moving away from the traditional gun line towards operating on our own with less camouflage and concealment. We drop, shoot and get out of there to avoid counter battery.”
South Korean Marine Corps Artillery Commander Major Kim Donju said:“ The involvement demonstrated the strength and capability of Korean Marine Corps equipment and “improved the capability of joint operations of multinational forces.”
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 Huntsman and AS10 are expected to provide similar capabilities. The K9 has an effective rang of 40km, a capacity of 48 rounds and fires 6-8 rounds a minute, including three-round bursts. A further 104 rounds can be transported with the K10 resupply vehicle.
In September 2020, the Minister for Defense, Linda Reynolds, announced a request for tender to locally build 30 K9s under the Land 8116 Phase 1 Protected Mobility Fires requirement. The sole-source request for tender will be released to the preferred supplier, Hanwha Defense Australia, to build and maintain 30 K9s and 15 K10s, as well as their supporting systems. Australian variant AS9 Huntsman is based on Norwegian K9 VIDAR. 30 AS9 Huntsmen and 15 AS10 armoured ammunition resupply vehicles will be built in Victoria. In February 2022, Hanwha Defense Australia made a selection of site of 150,000 m2, which includes 32,000 m2 manufacturing facility, 1.5 km long track, and various test and R&D sites, for its first overseas factory named H-ACE (Hanwha Armoured Vehicle Centre of Excellence) at Geelong, which will create 300 jobs for local specialists.