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Hanwha Aerospace provides details of the offer of cooperation in the production of AHS K9PL

Hanwha Aerospace presented some details regarding the industrial cooperation offer for the production of self-propelled howitzers K9 for Poland.

Billy BooHwan Lee, CEO of Hanwha Aerospace Europe, emphasizes that Hanwha Aerospace has extensive experience in cooperation with the Polish defense industry. In 2013, cooperation began on the development and implementation of the chassis for the Krab self-propelled howitzer, which is directly derived from the chassis of the K9 self-propelled howitzer. In many respects, these chassis are very similar.

Following another aggression by Russia against Ukraine in February 2022, the Polish side, seeking to enhance its defense capabilities, reached an agreement with the South Korean industry, and Hanwha Aerospace began cooperation in developing a version of the K9 self-propelled howitzer meeting the requirements of the Polish Armed Forces (K9PL). 

From A1 to A3

Representatives of Hanwha Aerospace emphasize their willingness to engage in industrial cooperation in the production of the K9 howitzer. These vehicles have found customers not only in Poland but also in other countries, including Finland, Estonia, and Norway in our region alone. Each time, the K9 has been adapted to meet local requirements. Due to the short timeframe of the initial order from Poland, the vehicles delivered to our country in the first batches are in the K9A1 standard developed for the Armed Forces of the Republic of Korea. However, they are fitted with the TOPAZ fire control and command system as well as the Fonet communication system provided by the Polish WB Group. Subsequently, vehicles developed according to Polish requirements in the K9PL version will be delivered to Poland.

The K9 self-propelled howitzer is being developed and modernized according to the requirements of the Korean army. During the opening of the office in Warsaw, representatives of Hanwha Aerospace Europe reminded that advanced work is underway on the K9A2 version, which will have an automated loading system. This will reduce the crew composition to three persons. At the same time, thanks to new types of ammunition, the range of engaging targets will increase from approximately 40 km for the K9A1 version to 54 km for the K9A2 version.

However, the development program of the K9 howitzer does not end there. Work is also underway on the next version, designated as the K9A3. It will be a significantly more automated vehicle. Its crew is intended to consist of two persons, with a fully crewless option that will be controlled remotely. The engagement range for targets planned for the K9A3 AHS is estimated by the Koreans to be from 70 to 100 km.

Second Executive Agreement

As part of the work on the K9PL version, the Korean side is incorporating a greater number of systems supplied by Polish manufacturers into the equipment of these vehicles. Self-propelled howitzers produced under the second executive agreement will be equipped with laser warning receivers produced by PCO and smoke grenade launchers produced by Dezamet. Additionally, the air conditioning system will be supplied by Webasto, and the ventilation filtration system will be provided by Radiotechnika Marketing.

As part of the technology transfer, Hanwha Aerospace intends, under the second executive agreement, to provide Poland with the technology for manufacturing modular charges with ignition systems and propellant charges. Under the same agreement, Koreans propose establishing a supply chain for joint European projects. Polish manufacturers would also engage in producing components for the K9 howitzers for other customers on our continent.

Third Executive Agreement

Under the third executive agreement, the Polish industry would be responsible for a larger scope of K9PL production, in addition to the Polish suppliers mentioned in previous agreements. Steel supply would be handled by Cognor, Walcownia Stali Batory, and Huta Stali Jakościowych from Stalowa Wola. The chassis construction would be carried out by ZRE Katowice. Suspension systems would be supplied by Borimex. According to the Korean proposal, Huta Stalowa Wola would be responsible for the production of the barrel, assembly, integration, and testing.

Furthermore, as Robert Szelenbaum, the program manager at Hanwha Aerospace Europe, informs, structural changes are planned for the chassis of the K9PL units produced under the third executive agreement, aiming to unify them with the chassis supplied for the Krab self-propelled howitzers. Therefore, the chassis will ultimately be the same as those used for Polish self-propelled howitzers.

Photos: Grzegorz Sobczak, MILMAG

The offer from Hanwha Aerospace concerning the third executive agreement also includes a proposal for the involvement of the Polish industry in the development of the new K9A2 version and the next-generation self-propelled howitzer. Additionally, matters regarding ammunition production are being addressed.

Through Technology Transfer, Hanwha Aerospace intends to support Poland in securing the production capability of modular 155mm charges. Technological cooperation in the production of 155mm ammunition, along with service, production, and development capabilities for the KRAB and K9 platforms, will provide a comprehensive solution for the artillery sector. Technology Transfer will also establish manufacturing competencies based on Polish defense sector companies. As a result, the production of 155mm ammunition from Polish materials will be possible, significantly strengthening production capacity and ensuring independence and self-sufficiency in meeting Poland’s defense needs, say representatives of Hanwha Aerospace Europe.

In addition to production cooperation, Hanwha Aerospace will ensure technology transfer enabling full technical support to be conducted by Polish entities. Currently, technical support is provided by Korean personnel working in our country. Robert Szelenbaum announces that this year, the training of the first group of Polish specialists will be completed, and they will gradually take over technical support from the Korean side.

In addition, there will be a logistics center to ensure smooth delivery of spare parts. Its location has not yet been disclosed. It is only known that it will be located near Warsaw, and its task will be to support the operation of K9 howitzers not only in Poland but also in the entire region.


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