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K9 155mm self-propelled howitzer

The new K9 howitzer, South Korean designed and developed, will give the Republic of Korea Army a significant improvement in capability over the current M109A2. With a claimed a range of 40 km, it offers greater mobility, longer range and higher rate of fire, and increased battlefield survivability as it can quickly be brought into action, open fire and come out of action. It is, therefore, less likely to be engaged by counterbattery fire. K9 is an indegenous system of an all-welded steel armour contruction which is rated to withstand impact by 14.5mm armour piercing shells and 152mm shell fragments. The main armament consists of a 155mm/52 caliber ordnance with a maximum firing range of 40km. State-of-the-art mobility subsystems include a 1,000 horsepower engine with potential for growth and hydropneumatic suspension unit.

Domestic development of the KH-179 and the armament which is constructed, and KM109A2 coproduction of ammunition, led to a new style self-propelled artillery. The development program of this 155mm/52-caliber self-propelled howitzer has been underway since 1989. In 1996 the first prototype of this new artillery system was tested. The contract for the new K9 artillery system was awarded to Samsung Aerospace Industries (SSA) by the Korean Government on 22 December 1998. The contract, the South Korean Army received the first production batch of K9 from prime contractor SSA in 1999, making it the second country to deploy such a system.

The K9 considered international ammunition compatibility, and it adopted a basic plan of armament and ammunition in order for the development to be completed. For export to be possible, it uses the standards international common 155 ? caliber ammunition. The system includes the point weapon system, armament, ammunition, and the gun. It developed turret driving gear and the infrastructure from domestic sources, and considered economical efficiency in the navigation system, engine and transmission introduced from foreign countries. The suspension system was from in-country production, after introduction of technical know-how.

The K9 overcame the numerical inferiority of North Korea preparation fire in the short-term. And in order for the defense of the fatherland to be possible from circumference environment of all Korea, the rate of fire and reactivity were maximized, along with survivability and a mobility. The maximum range is planned in order for the Corps fire support to be possible.

After receiving a fire command, the K9 thunder is able to fire on a target within 30 seconds at emplacement and within 60 seconds from movement. Even though TOT (time on target) firing may be accomplished by several howitzers simultaneously, the K9 thunder is able to more efficiently accomplish the same task by simply changing its fire data. The K9 thunder alone can produce three times as much as the M109A2 155mm SPH in firing capability.

DAPA and Samsung Tech-One entered into an agreement of 1,500 billion won on Nov. 26, 2008 for supplying ROK armed forces by 2012 with K9 self-propelled guns and K-10 ammunition carrying armored vehicles manufactured by genuine domestic technology. The K9 self-propelled gun was developed by ADD in 1998 on independent technology. It has a range of 40 km and can run at maximum speed of 67 km and is equipped with automatic firing control device and automatic feed mechanism. And it can fire the first shot within 30 seconds and fire 6~8 shots per minute so as to strike the enemy fast and accurately. As a gun of the world top class level, it is a core artillery power of the Korean armed forces.

The first country the developer of the K9, Samsung Techwin, sold the system to was Turkey, which received its first batch of K9s in 2004 and has since bought the license from Samsung Techwin to domestically produce the K9 in Turkey. Turkey is expected to field a force of 300 K9s by 2011. This total deal for Samsung Techwin was worth a reported $1 billion US dollars.

The performance of the K9 came under scrutiny when two howitzers suffered malfunctions when they were engaged against North Korea’s artillery during Pyongyang’s 2010 bombardment of Yeonpyongdo, an island in the West Sea close to the border with the North. Following its setback during the Bombardment of Yeonpyeong, the K9 received a series of modifications to reduce its rate of malfunction. According to a parliamentary inquiry in 2016, there have been more than 1,700 reports of malfunctions with the K9 artillery over the past five years.

By 2020 there were some 1,700 K9 Self-propelled Howitzers in operation around the world including in countries like Turkey, Poland and India after exports began in 2001. Hanwha had sold its guns to Turkey, India, Finland, Estonia, and Norway, while others were interested. The Norwegian military conducted a comprehensive trials program, pitting Hanwha against the Swiss RUAG M109 Krait, KMW Panzerhaubitze 2000, and the Nexter Caesar. Hanwha was selected as the winner, and the Norwegian military placed an order for 24 K9 SPH and six K-10 AARVs.


In August 2017 the military revealed a plan to improve the K9’s performance, including the development of an automated loading system, similar to a robotic turret. At that time, about 500 K9 were fielded since its prototype was produced in 1999, and more than 1,000 K9s had been produced. From 2018, Hanwha Defense was to deliver a modernized version of the K9 Thunder self-propelled howitzer, designated K9A1. The modifications introduced therein include, among others, a modernized automatic fire control system, inertial and satellite navigation system, thermal imaging device for the driver and a reversing camera, and a new auxiliary power unit.


According to Hanhwa Defense, work has begun on a new version of the K9 Thunder self-propelled howitzer with an unmanned turret. State research on this variant, designated K9A2, is expected to begin in late 2020. This latest version of the K9 is to be equipped with a fully unmanned turret system with a fully automatic ammunition loading and handling system. This is to significantly increase the rate of fire and reduce the number of crew members. Initial research and development on this version of K9 is expected to be completed within the next few years.

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Page last modified: 09-03-2022 19:42:22 ZULU