The Australian Government released a Request for Tender in September 2020 for the Protected Mobile Fires project to buy and build 30 self-propelled howitzers.
The details were given in a 3 September media release, to announce the request for tender will be released to preferred supplier Hanwha Defense Australia, to build and maintain 30 self-propelled howitzers and 15 armoured ammunition resupply vehicles, and their supporting systems.
“The self-propelled howitzers will be built in the Geelong region, with ongoing deep maintenance conducted in the same Australian facility to support the systems throughout their service life,” it said in a statement.
The Request for Tender will progress this first phase of the Protected Mobile Fires capability.
Together with the subsequent phases announced in the 2020 Force Structure Plan, it will ensure a long-term future for industry’s involvement in the delivery of this critical capability for the ADF.
Minister for Defense Industry, Melissa Price said the Morrison Government is committed to maximising opportunities for Australian industry.
Hanwha Defense Australia (HDA) is set to submit a tender in response to the self-propelled howitzer procurement program, codenamed Land 8116, which has a budget of up to AUD $1.3 billion.
“This is a tremendous outcome for our company and we very much appreciate the Commonwealth placing their trust in Hanwha for this opportunity,” said Richard Cho, managing director of HDA. “By beginning this journey with Hanwha, the Commonwealth will reap the benefits of being part of a global community of more than 2,400 K9/K10 SPH systems worldwide with all of the sustainment, training, and global supply opportunities that this will bring.”
As part of efforts to help expand the Australian defense industrial base, Hanwha Defense is committed to building the vehicles in the Geelong region and growing local skills, Cho said, adding the envisioned Geelong facility is expected to serve as an alternative sustainment and supply chain base for the global K9 family of vehicles.
“This is a different approach to just building and exporting, which given the increasing trend of localization being demanded globally,” the managing director said. “With this Government announcement, work will commence immediately to implement our plan for the building of facilities and skilling of the local Geelong based work force.”
The project is expected to create up to 350 jobs to build and maintain the new vehicles, providing significant opportunities in other areas such as transport and warehousing, as well as component manufacture and repair.
The transfer of IP and know -how to enable Australian Industry to, in the long term, allow for local design, engineering and manufacturing will be the most essential part of plans focused on developing the industrial base required for a sovereign capability.
Hanwha plans to develop the “Huntsman” family of vehicles comprising of the K9 SPH and K10 AARV to deliver a complete mission. The SPH is a 52 calibre, 155 mm platform capable of taking advantage of current and emerging 155mm munitions technologies. It has a crew of 4 or 5 depending on the configuration with an ammunition capacity of up to 48 rounds and accompanying modular charge systems.
The K10 AARV is a largely robotized system built on the same chassis as the K9. It holds 104 rounds of 155mm ammunition and is designed to provide ammunition resupply under armour and forward to the Artillery unit.
“The latest decision by the Australian Government to consider acquisition of K9 SPHs as the preferred solution is evident of the systems excellent performance around the world and the faith that the Commonwealth of Australia has placed in Hanwha Defense Australia to deliver this new capability to the Australian Army,” Hanwha Defense CEO Lee Sung-soo said. “In close cooperation with the Commonwealth of Australia, we intend to establish a significant manufacturing base in the Geelong region which will build the K9 and K10 fleets and provide a sovereign support capability for the whole life of the Huntsman fleet.”