Korea’s leading defense company guns for UK market
Hanwha Defense announced on Sept. 14 that the Seoul-based company would join forces with top-tier UK defense companies to develop a local variant of self-propelled howitzer, K9 Thunder, for the British Army.
The partnership, dubbed “Team Thunder,” will bid to manufacture and supply self-propelled howitzers for the Royal Artillery as part of the UK Mobile Fires Platform Program.
During the DSEI 2021, which takes place in London, Hanwha Defense plans to sign memorandums of understanding (MOUs) to mint the global cooperation.
The participants are Leonardo UK, Pearson Engineering, Horstman Defense Systems, and Soucy Defense of the Soucy Group. Lockheed Martin UK is also in talks to join the Team Thunder, and more partners may be announced later.
“Team Thunder will be a key pillar of Hanwha Defense’s bid for the Mobile Fires Platform program, and the formation of Team Thunder demonstrates a firm commitment to bringing the maximum benefit to the UK industry through a robust partnership with local suppliers,” said Hanwha Defense Vice President Oh Kye-hwan, who is in charge of the firm’s overseas business.
“We believe the combination of UK industrial expertise and South Korean technology will generate an incredible level of synergy.”
The work scope of the Team Thunder partner companies will be discussed in a way of maximizing the benefits to the UK industry, according to Oh.
He also stressed a substantial part of the manufacturing will take place in the UK.
Track records in global businesses
Hanwha Defense has track records in overseas businesses as amply demonstrated its partnerships in Poland and India with regards to the manufacturing of K9 vehicles.
Hanwha said the Team Thunder partnership is established with one eye on the export market with the potential for the UK to become a regional hub within the global supply chain of the 2,400 K9 family vehicles, including K10 ammunition resupply vehicles.
For the MFP program, Hanwha Defense will offer the most advanced version of the K9 155mm/52-calibre Self-Propelled Howitzer (SPH), called the K9A2, which is being developed to feature enhanced firepower, protection, and mobility.
The K9A2 is to be equipped with a fully automated turret capable of firing nine rounds per minute. With the automated turret, the number of crew is to be reduced from five to three.
Up to 1,700 K9 variants are in service with seven countries _ South Korea, Turkey, Poland, Finland, India, Norway, and Estonia.
Australia would be the eighth customer operating K9 vehicles, as the country is in the process of acquiring 30 AS9 Huntsman vehicles and 15 K10 armored ammunition resupply vehicles.