Hanwha Defense strengthens European presence with enhanced PGZ collaboration

K9 Thunder self-propelled howitzer. (JR Ng)

South Korea’s Hanwha Defense has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Poland’s state-funded defence conglomerate Polska Grupa Zbrojeniowa (PGZ) to further boost industrial relationship, Hanwha announced on 7 September.

The MoU centres on the supply of Hanwha Defense’s K9 Thunder 155mm self-propelled howitzers (SPHs), which was first mooted through a Framework Contract signed by the South Korean and Polish governments in late July, and outlines the production, servicing, life-cycle cost and future development of the K9 SPHs.

Hanwha Defense was subsequently awarded a contract by the Polish government on 26 August to supply “hundreds” of K9 SPHs between 2022 and 2026.

The MoU is also focused on boosting joint research and development, manufacturing, overhaul and modernisation of related solutions for Polish, South Korean and other third-party projects, the company added, noting that the scope of co-operation also includes indigenising the K9 to K9PL (Poland) standard and work on next-generation field artillery systems.

Other fields of potential co-operation include infantry fighting vehicles (IFVs) and multiple launch rocket systems (MLRS) if selected by the Polish Armed Forces.

Poland will be a hub base for Hanwha’s global expansion, especially in Europe. To that end, we are dedicated to work together with the Government of Poland with full partnership and trust,” said Son Jaeil, President and CEO of Hanwha Defense.

AMR earlier reported that Hanwha Defense will deliver the first batch of 48 K9 SPHs between 2022 and 2023, with the customised K9PL variants first entering production in South Korea from 2024 before production relocates to Poland from 2026. Poland will also receive K10 armoured resupply vehicles and K11 command vehicle from Hanwha Defense.

The K9PL will be derived from the latest K9A2 SPH being developed by Hanwha Defense, featuring an automatic loading system that boosts its rate of fire to 9-10 rounds per minute as opposed to the baseline K9A1’s 6-8 rounds per minute. The crew complement has also been reduced from five to three.

The first 48 South Korean-built K9A1s will also be upgraded to the K9PL standard, both of which will be equipped with Polish communication systems and WB Group’s Topaz integrated combat management system.

by Jr Ng