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K9 SPH User Group Meets in Helsinki

Library image of four Norwegian K9 VIDAR 155mm self-propelled howitzers in a fire position during COLD RESPONSE 2022 in Norway [© Carl Schulze]

Military representatives from six of the countries operating the Hanwha K9 Self-Propelled Howitzer (SPH) have convened in Helsinki.

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Press Release, Seoul, 23 January 2024: Military representatives from six of the countries operating the prestigious155mm/52-calibre K9 Self-Propelled Howitzer (SPH), developed by Hanwha Aerospace, have convened in Helsinki, Finland, for the annual K9 User Club meeting. For this year’s meeting, the third of its kind since 2022, Finland, which has joined NATO, hosted the event, as the Finish Army is operating the K9 ‘Moukari’ artillery systems.

About 50 military delegates from six K9 user nations – South Korea, Finland, Norway, Estonia, Poland, Australia – have attended the meeting, while the United States has joined the meeting as observer. The three-day meeting also includes delegates from global defence companies – such as Millog from Finland, Kongsberg from Norway, HSW from Poland, Van Haltern from the Netherlands, and Soucy from Canada – for discussions over industrial partnerships.

K9 Users Club 2024 in Finland [© Hanwha]

On the first day of the three-day gathering, the participating nations gave their own presentations on the status of operating the K9 systems and what they have learned. The presentations were largely focused on sharing experience, knowledge, and know-how of the operation, maintenance, and training of the K9 SPH. The K9 artillery is in active service with seven countries including South Korea, Finland, Norway, Estonia, Poland, India, and Türkiye, while Australia and Egypt are ready to field the artillery guns in the coming years.

In a briefing, South Korea’s Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) shared the robust developmental roadmap for developing the next-generation K9A2 and K9A3 variants over the next decade. The K9A2 will integrate a fully automated turret, delivering enhanced levels of automation, lethality, survivability, and digitalisation. The K9A3 is to feature extended range through the integration of a 58-calibre barrel, alongside the inclusion of further automation and AI to deliver crewed and uncrewed teaming solutions to maximise lethality and survivability outcomes.

Library image of a Hanwha K9 self-propelled howitzer at MSPO 2023 in Poland [© Bob Morrison]

Hanwha Aerospace unveiled a plan to establish a K9 spare parts centre in Europe to provide K9 customer nations in the region with more effective and systematic integrated logistics support. Vice President Cho Sang-hwan, Head of Hanwha Aerospace’s MRO Business Group, said : “Hanwha Aerospace prioritises delivering proper solutions to K9 user nations to ensure stable operation and maintenance of the K9 SPH. In that regard, we are fully committed to offering the most effective logistics support to our customers.”

On the second day of the meeting, working group sessions will be held to discuss how to get the best out of their K9 systems with regards to maintenance, tactics and training. The delegates are scheduled to tour the MRO site of Millog, the local supplier of K9 for the Finnish Defence Forces, and a K9 base in Hameenlinna to wrap the event up.

The K9 User Club was launched in April 2022 in Changwon with the aim of rotational hosts. The first meeting was hosted by South Korea, followed by the second event in Norway in 2023, and the third, in Finland for this year.

Library image of an Estonian Hanwha K9 THUNDER 155mm Self-Propelled Howitzer, May 2021 [© Bob Morrison]

Nicknamed ‘Thunder’, the K9 is the world’s most popular SPH, with about 1,800 units in service now to account for over 50 percent of the global market share of artillery SPH platforms. The tracked howitzer can deliver consistent, accurate, rapid effects at ranges of more than 40 kilometres range with high rates and volumes of fire, as the artillery is optimised to be able to ‘shoot and scoot,’ firing multiple rounds and immediately moving to a different location to avoid counter-battery fire

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