On August 26, 2022, South Korea’s Hanwha Defense company and Polish defense officials officially signed a deal to purchase a large number of K9 self-propelled guns nicknamed “thunder”.

With a valuation of approximately $2.4 billion, this contract is the first phase of a broader framework agreement, which was established in late July.

On September 9, Poland announced a landmark deal to improve artillery power with the purchase of 672 K9 self-propelled guns from South Korea. This acquisition is set to significantly enhance the artillery capabilities of the Polish Armed Forces, reflecting the nation’s strategic intent in the face of evolving geopolitical challenges.

Purchasing a large number of K9 self-propelled guns will significantly increase the strength of the Polish army’s artillery force. Countries operating this self-propelled artillery system include South Korea, India, Norway, Finland, Poland, Turkey and Estonia. This is a platform to share knowledge and experience in operating and maintaining K9 self-propelled guns.

The introduction of the K9 Thunder aims to supplement and replace the K55 155mm self-propelled howitzer of the South Korean armed forces. In 1998, the project was accepted and in 1999, K9 was mass-produced. Up to now, the K9 has become the most popular self-propelled gun in the world with more than 2,000 units already in service globally.

The howitzer can deliver consistent, accurate, rapid effects at a range of up to 40 km with high rates and volumes of fire. In particular, the K9 is optimized for “Shoot-and-Scoot” capability to fire multiple rounds and immediately move to a different location to avoid potential counter-fire. The main weapon is the 155mm gun. It has a burst rate of fire of three rounds per 15 seconds and a maximum rate of fire of six to eight rounds a minute for three minutes. Sustained rate of fire is two to three rounds a minute for one hour.

The gun’s firing is controlled by onboard fire-control equipment. The information can be transmitted through a data digital radio link or voice communications. The automatic loading system places the projectiles onto the ammunition tray ready for fire. The K9 Thunder can open fire within 30 seconds at stand out position or within 60 seconds during movement. With a price of 10 million USD with the K-10 ammunition truck, or 6 million USD only for the cannon, the K9 is one of Korea’s most popular weapons thanks to its top-notch technical and combat features as well as its relatively reasonable price.

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