Defense giants will build advanced K9 Self-Propelled Howitzer for UK
Hanwha Defense announced on March 18 that Lockheed Martin UK had signed teaming agreement to join Team Thunder led by South Korea’s top defense company.
The team, which also includes Pearson Engineering, Horstman Defense Systems, Leonardo UK, and Soucy Defense of the Soucy Group, will build an advanced variant of the K9 Self-Propelled Howitzer for the Royal Artillery.
It is a part of the Mobile Fires Platform (MFP) program for the UK Ministry of Defense (MOD).
Team Thunder plans to locally manufacture the K9A2, creating hundreds of new jobs across the UK supply chain, according to Hanwha.
The firm said that the advanced version would be an upgrade of the existing 155mm/52-calibre K9A1 Self-Propelled Howitzer, as it is to feature improved lethality, mobility, and survivability.
“We’re delighted to be working with Lockheed Martin UK as part of Team Thunder. Globally, Lockheed Martin is the world’s biggest aerospace, space, and defense company,” Hanwha’s global business chief Kim Dae-young said.
“As part of its UK operations, the company’s Ampthill site in Bedfordshire is home to the country’s most advanced digital manufacturing facility in the defense sector.”
He said that Team Thunder would be a key pillar of Hanwha Defense’s bid for the MFP program.
Lee Fellows, Vice President and Managing Director for Lockheed Martin UK’s Ampthill business, also pinned high hopes on the high-profile collaboration.
“With operations in the UK for over 80 years, Lockheed Martin has a proud track record of supporting the UK economy, and today our business employs thousands of people across 23 UK locations,” he said.
“Along with other Team Thunder partner’s expertise, our advanced systems, specialty engineering, and digitally-enabled production facility will provide the modern capabilities needed to manufacture in-country, bring into service and support the K9A2.”
Unlike wheeled vehicles, the K9 tracked Howitzer has an advantage of effectively operating in difficult terrains, including off-road, deserts, snow, and other challenging environments, Hanwha noted.
The K9 system is already in service with seven countries, including NATO members such as Poland, Norway, and Estonia. Australia and Egypt have also signed deals to acquire the K9 Howitzer, expanding the membership of the K9 User Community to nine countries.