South Korean defense firm Hanwha Defense announced in a press release Wednesday that it has launched practical discussions with suppliers in the UK in bids to participate in the upcoming Mobile Fires Platform (MFP) program for acquiring advanced self-propelled howitzers.
According to a press release from Hanwha, the company is teaming up with U.K. suppliers to offer the new variant of its K9 self-propelled howitzer for the British Army.
The company says the K9 is operationally proven and will be put forward by Hanwha Defense for the UK’s Mobile Fires Platform program to equip the British Army with a world-leading artillery capability.
The K9 is currently in service with the ROK and armies around the world, including India, Norway, Finland and Estonia. In September 2020 the Australian Army selected the K9 as its preferred solution for the Protected Mobile Fires platform in its LAND 8116 program, with a final contract due to be awarded in early 2022.
Hanwha Defense intends to replicate the successful industry participation model used in India and Australia so that the maximum value possible of the British Army’s K9s will be made in the UK.
Also noted that the company is also committed to transferring related technology and know-how to the UK and will be enabling its UK partners to access a global market in excess of 600 vehicles.
Talks are already underway with Lockheed Martin UK, Pearson Engineering, Horstman Defence Systems and Soucy Defense, along with other UK defense industry partners. As part of the MFP program, Hanwha Defense will contribute across the UK to introduce specialist training and new skills for the long-term development, manufacture, maintenance and support of the British Army’s advanced version of K9.
Tests and evaluations for the newest version of K9, dubbed the K9A2, are already in full swing to increase the artillery’s key capabilities, including the maximum rate of fire and automatic ammunition loading functions. The K9A2 development has been led by Hanwha Defense and the state-funded Agency for Defense Development.
The proposed UK version will be fitted with advanced technologies, such as an unmanned turret, mine protection kits and composite rubber tracks. Furthermore, an automated resupply capability will be introduced using 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,” said Mr. Oh Kyea-hwan, vice president of Hanwha Defense International, who is responsible for sales and marketing of the UK project. “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.”
“We are looking forward to engaging with the UK Mobile Fires Platform team to explore how we can bring the maximum amount of industrial benefit to the UK,” Mr. 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 MFP is due to be released in 2022. Hanwha Defense will be revealing its team for this program at DSEI and other shows between now and then.