The Korea-based defence company has commenced formal negotiations with industry stakeholders in the UK for the development of a locally-produced variant of the K9 Howitzer.
Hanwha Defense has confirmed it is exploring opportunities to develop a ‘Made in the UK’ variant of its K9 Self-Propelled Howitzer, proposed for the UK’s Mobile Fires Platform program, which aims to equip the British Army with next-generation artillery capability.
The K9 is currently in service with a number of international forces, including the Republic of Korea, India, Norway, Finland and Estonia.
In September 2020, the Australian Army also announced a request for tender to locally manufacture 30 K9 Howitzer (K9 Thunder SPH) platforms as part of the Commonwealth government’s LAND 8116 program, with a final contract expected to be awarded in early 2022.
Hanwha Defense has now expressed interest in replicating the industry participation model used in India and Australia for the UK variant.
The firm has also committed to transferring related technology and expertise to the UK.
Hanwha has commenced discussions with a number of defence contractors, including Lockheed Martin UK, Pearson Engineering, Horstman Defence Systems and Soucy Defense.
Test and evaluation activities are currently underway for the latest version of the K9, dubbed the K9A2, designed to increase the artillery’s key capabilities, including the maximum rate of fire and automatic ammunition loading functions.
The proposed UK version is expected to be fitted with an unmanned turret, mine protection kits and composite rubber tracks, as well as an automated resupply capability that leverages Hanwha’s robotic K10 Ammunition Resupply Vehicle.
“Building on the developing relationship between the UK and South Korea, we are delighted to invite the UK to join the K9 global family,” Oh Kyea-hwan, vice president of Hanwha Defense International, said.
“By working together with nations around the world, Hanwha is able to offer a cost effective and modular approach.
“Ultimately this makes us all more resilient and allows us to integrate more easily when it matters most.”
Oh added: “The K9 is an innovator in the self-propelled howitzer market and we see great things ahead for an amalgamation of UK industrial expertise and South Korean technology.”
An RFP for the UK’s program is due to be released in 2022.