Korean defense giant will show off unmanned capabilities at US military fair
Hanwha Defense announced on Oct. 10 that its K9 Thunder self-propelled howitzer (SPH) would be in the spotlight at this week’s land power exposition hosted by the Association of the US Army (AUSA).
The South Korean defense giant noted that the K9 SPH is the world’s most proven artillery system, already in service in a total of nine countries.
The 155mm/52-calibre gun will be on show alongside the K10 ammunition resupply vehicle (ARV) at AUSA 2022, to be run on October 10-12 at Walter E. Washington Convention Center, Washington D.C.
The display of K9 family vehicles follows their successful demonstration of compatibility with various U.S. munitions at Yuma Proving Ground, Arizona, in September, according to Hanwha Defense.
The Seoul-based company said that the latest live demonstration was conducted under the Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) framework signed between Hanwha and U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Armaments Center (DEVCOM AC) in 2021.
The bilateral framework is designed to assess the feasibility, performance and capabilities of carrying and firing the US munitions by Hanwha’s artillery platforms.
“The demonstration successfully met all of its CRADA objectives, having shown the full interoperability of K9 and K10 vehicles with U.S. munitions and charges, in addition to the extended range, shoot and scoot and high rate of fire of the K9 system,” Hanwha Defense USA CEO John Kelly said.
“The collaboration with DEVCOM AC and U.S. Army Test and Evaluation Command at Yuma has been excellent.”
The K9 Thunder is the best proven tracked platform, allowing genuine, sustained 360-degree firing solutions, delivering consistent, accurate, rapid effects at +40km range with high rates and volumes of fire.
The K10 is a fully automated ammunition resupply vehicle designed to be used in conjunction with the K9.
Based on the same chassis as the K9 SPH, the ARV carries a total of 104 rounds and possesses the same mobility as the K9. At Yuma, Hanwha’s gun crew demonstrated the capabilities of K9A1 SPH and K10 ARV by loading and firing different types of U.S. ammunition, such as 155mm M795 projectiles, XM1113 rocket-assisted projectiles (RAP), and modular artillery charge system (MACS) charges.
Through the live capability test, the K9A1 successfully proved its “shoot and scoot” capability, firing multiple rounds and moving out of position immediately to negate the danger of counter-battery fire.
In addition, the artillery showed high levels of burst fire and rate of fire, with the firing of three rounds in 16 seconds and six rounds in 45 seconds, respectively.
During the show, Hanwha will also present the growth potential of the K9 artillery system, which is being upgraded to the K9A2 version equipped with a fully automatic ammunition handling system.
With the automated turret, the K9A2 can attain a fire rate of at least nine rounds per minute, only with three crewmembers. Further down the line, a more futuristic K9 version, codenamed K9A3, will be developed to feature an extended firing range and remote-controlled/autonomous driving modes.
At the Hanwha booth, Hanwha said that visitors would be able to see the company’s futuristic unmanned ground vehicle (UGV) _ Arion-SMET _ and related technologies.
The Arion-SMET is a state-of-the-art UGV to carry out multiple missions in support of infantry troops on the battlefield.
The 6×6 UGV features a range of innovative capabilities, including autonomous off-road driving; remote-controlled maneuvers; and tether devices for following soldiers.
The Arion-SMET can carry out missions such as reconnaissance, communication relay, logistics/casualty transport, and close combat. In particular, the next-generation vehicle has been designed to be optimized for supporting manned and unmanned teaming (MUM-T) operations.
“Along with those great, legacy weapon systems such as K9, Hanwha Defense has striven to deliver robotics and autonomous systems with superb and tailor-made capabilities since 2006,” Hanwha Defense Vice President Seo Young-woo stated.
“Arion-SMET is the latest edition to this effort that would stand strong in the era of ushering in manned-unmanned teaming (MUM-T), and recently gets lots of attention from the domestic and international market as its functionalities are easily expandable and its capabilities are very competitive.”
The vehicle is armed with a deep neural network (DNN)-based remote-controlled weapons station (RCWS), which can detect the sound of gunfire and fire back in the direction of the origin of the sound.
It can travel at road and cross-country speeds of up to 43kph and 34 kph, respectively, offering a payload capacity of 500kg.
Hanwha will also display the TAipers tactical guided rocket, jointly developed by the Agency for Defense Development.
Also known as Cheongeom, the TAipers is an enhanced air-to-ground guided missile designed to be launched from a light attack helicopter.
The missile is equipped with an advanced visual, and infrared dual mode seeker for day-and-night operations, and its fiber optic data link and man-in-the-loop (MITL) operation enable the operator to conduct both line-of-sight (LOS) and none-line-of-sight (NLOS) target striking missions.
Hanwha Defense’s next-generation weapon systems can be checked at the AUSA booth #1405.