Friday, December 2, 2022

South Korea and Australia signs massive self-propelled howitzer deal

South Korean defense giant Hanwha Defense announced on Monday that it has signed a contract to supply and locally produce the AS9 Huntsman Self-Propelled Howitzer and AS10 Armoured Automatic Resupply Vehicle for the Australian Army.

The AS9 Huntsman is a special variant of Hanwha’s K9 Thunder self-propelled howitzer developed for Australia. With the AS9 Huntsman, Hanwha is offering a proven 52-caliber 155mm gun system that is in-service with multiple nations around the world including the NATO alliance.

The AS10 Armoured Ammunition Resupply Vehicle is a highly protected and manoeuvrable ammunition resupply vehicle with a unique loading system that reduces risk to soldiers from enemy fire.

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As noted by the company, Australia has become the seventh customer of the K9 Thunder hwitzer, which is expanding its global presence further.

“I am enormously proud for Hanwha to be part of such a significant occasion. To see the Korean President side-by-side with the Australian Prime Minister makes the growing depth of the relationship between Australia and Korea clear to me,” Mr Jaeil Son, President and Chief Executive Officer of Hanwha Defense said.

“Both countries have much to gain from each other economically, but benefits are especially significant in terms of regional security. The long-standing trust and friendship between Australia and the Republic of Korea is a great asset,” Mr Richard Cho, Managing Director of Hanwha Defense Australia said.

“The team at Hanwha Defense Australia has worked hard for this day. It is an honour to be contracted to supply equipment to the Australian Defence Force,” Mr Cho said.

“The Hanwha team is now highly focussed on the seamless delivery of what will be a transformative capability to the Australian Army. We will be working closely with our Australian industry partners to ensure that we deliver on our promise to establish sovereign capability here in Australia,” Mr Cho said.

The procurement is part of Defence project Land 8116 phase 1 which will see the acquisition of 30 AS9 Huntsman self-propelled howitzers and 15 AS10 armoured resupply vehicles.

This highly advanced new equipment will bring a genuine transformation to the Australian Army’s artillery capability.

The vehicles will be manufactured in Australia at a new Hanwha facility to be constructed in the Greater Geelong area of Victoria.

“With Australia’s close proximity to Republic of Korea, and the strong bilateral relationship between the two countries, Hanwha’s Australian facility will also become a critical and important secondary line of supply back to South Korea. The Australian operation also help Hanwha fulfil contracts in other parts of the world and deliver capacity to engage with Five Eyes nations,” Mr Cho said.

Local production of the AS9 and AS10 Huntsman vehicles will see Australia enter the global supply chain for the entire fleet with ongoing development of Australian Manufacturing and Supply Chain to global K9 user community. There will be full engineering support in Australia with reach-back to all original equipment manufacturers.

The AS9 Huntsman features the highest levels of protection and survivability for this class of vehicle. Its mission and fire control systems provide fully automated support for planning, coordinating, controlling and executing fire missions. Huntsman is a mature protected mobile fires platform that is low risk with proven ability to deliver.

Construction of the new Hanwha manufacturing facility is scheduled to commence in the second quarter of 2022 and take 24 months to complete. Production of the AS9 Huntsman self-propelled howitzers is scheduled to commence in the fourth quarter of 2024.

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About this Author

Min Cheol Gu
Gu Min-Chul is a defense reporter, covering the Korean defense industrial base and all related issues.

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