KH-178 105mm towed field gun
The 105mm KH-178 can be classified as a lightweight howitzer which began production in 1984. The base of this cannon design comes from the US M101 cannon which was used massively in the Korean War in the 1950s. KIA Machine Tool was the manufacturer for the KH-178 105mm and the KH-179 155mm towed field guns. The KH-178 and KH179 guns were derived from United States-designed artillery but were considered indigenously designed. During the period from 1980 to 1990, the number of field artillery pieces more than doubled, going from 2,000 to 4,200 pieces, and South Korea began to introduce larger guns to extend the effective range of fire. The KH-178 is habitually towed by the transports of troops on Bv-206 caterpillars of Swedish origin.
The cannon weighs 4,480 kg can fire projectiles up to 15 times in one minute. The maximum shooting distance reaches 14,700 meters and can fire various types of 105mm caliber ammunition that is compatible with NATO standards. Especially with Rocket-Assisted Projectile (RAP) firing, it can reach 18,000 meters. KH 178 has a length of 7.6 meters and a width of 2.1 meters.
In the 1970s, the National Defense Science Research Institute succeeded in designing the M2 / M101 105mm howitzer station through actual calculations . Since the development of the howitzer in the 1970s, the Defense Science Research Institute has developed a howitzer called the KH-178 by improving the length of the gun barrel based on the M2 / M101 105mm trailer howitzer series. Mass production was attempted, but only one battalion level was produced. The 101 brigade artillery unit is operating now. Firing ranges of 14.7km and RAP and Booster No. 8 are 18km longer than the conventional 105mm range.
The KH-178 was an inexpensive weapon worth 200 million won per unit. Replacement volume reached several hundred. However, the M2 / M101 105mm howitzer remained almost unchanged. Instead, the M114 155mm towed howitzer was replaced with a KH-179 155mm towed howitzer. Still, it affected the 155mm KH-179 development. This is because it has undergone similar improvements such as increasing the length of the barrel.
The reason for not being mass-produced is because it is considered that the M2 / M101 105mm howitzer complete replacement was costly and the efficiency was low. Despite the fact that the current brigade fire fighting force is not clear, the range of the Hyundai is up to 8.5km. On the other hand, the maximum range of KH178 is about twice that. The problem is that a more sophisticated observation system is needed at a range of more than 8.5 km.
At the same time, in the late 1970s, the trend was leaning to 155mm M114 gun. The necessity of domesticization of the 155mm towed howitzers and the appearance of the KH-179 155mm towed howitzer were further reduced. On the other hand, since 1989, the US Army has increased its weight and range to 105mmM119 traction howitzer was introduced. The range is similar to KH178.
By 2014 South Korea’s WIA, part of the Hyundai Group, was pushing for further export sales of its 105mm/ 38 calibre KH178 towed artillery system. On the upgraded KH178, the original 105mm barrel has been replaced by a new longer 105mm/ 38 calibre barrel fitted with a double-baffle muzzle brake. Firing the old M1 105mm high explosive (HE) projectile, a maximum range of 14.7km can be achieved, which can be increased to 18km with a rocket assisted projectile (RAP) or a base-bleed (BB) projectile. The upgraded KH178 also has a useful direct-fire capability of 1.5km, but this would only be used in an emergency.
By early 2018 the ROK Army (ROKA) planned an award Hanwha Land Systemsa to modernise several hundred M101A1 105mm towed howitzers. This came nearly seven decades after the weapon was used by the US Army, USMC and ROKA during the Korean War. While Hanwha’s K9 155mm/52cal self-propelled howitzer is the most powerful tube artillery system in South Korean service, the ROKA has the world’s largest inventory of 105mm towed howitzers – about 1,700 US-supplied M101s and the locally built KH178 upgrade – and an estimated stockpile of three million 105mm rounds.
Given the non-trivial cost to replace these 105mm howitzers and their ammo with 155mm systems, the ROKA intends to modernise a portion of the M101/KH178 inventory. Developed by Hyundai WIA, the KH178 upgrade replaced the original M101’s 105mm/23cal barrel with a longer CN78 105mm/38cal barrel [teh longer barrel provides longer range fire]. The upgrade is fitted with a double-baffle muzzle brake and the new RM78 recoil mechanism, both to compensate for the greater recoil from the longer barrel. The upgrade featurs a new Fire Control System [to manage fires at greater range]. And the trails on the CG78 carriage were also reinforced.
The KH178 can fire standard US M1 HE projectiles to arange of 14,700m using an M200 super-propellant charge, while the M548 RAP can reach 18,000m. With a weight of 2,650kg, the KH178 – like the M101 – is typically towed by a 6x6 2.5t cargo truck.
Serial production of the KH178began in 1984, but neither the company nor the ROKA disclosed how many M101s were converted to the improved standard. Hyundai WIA reportedly exported KH178s to Indonesia sufficient to equip three artillery battalions with 18 weapons each, and also a battery of guns to Chile, and continues to market the KH178.
The 9th Medan Artillery Battalion / Kostrad (Yonarmed 9) conducted a test of firing the KH-178 howitzer cannon at the shooting range of the ASR (Air Shooting Range) of the Pandan Wangi Lumajang Air Force in East Java. This firing activity through several series included: cannon operator training which had been carried out in Yonarmed 9 / Kostrad on March 16-23 2011 and Test of KH 178 cannon function which had been completed at the Batujajar firing range, Bandung on April 5, 2011. The KH-178 test is mentioned as unsatisfactory in terms of the desired accuracy. Plus this cannon weight is considered to be much heavier than its competitors.
In 2010, Korea exported 54 units to three battalions in Indonesia. Indonesia is understood to deploy three artillery battalions equipped with the KH178, with each of these having three batteries each with six weapons. In 1991, it exported 16 units to Chile. The KH-178 was used by South Korean AD (1,700 units).
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