Australian Army AS9 howitzer development attains new milestone

AS9 Huntsman
AS9 Huntsman

During trials the Australian Army’s new AS9 Huntsman 155 mm/52 calibre self-propelled howitzer (SPH) has reached a new milestone, with the latest evolution having test-fired three artillery rounds at a government testing facility in South Korea, the Australian Department of Defence (DoD) announced in a news release on 4 July.

The DoD said the latest test validated the AS9’s automated loading capabilities and its compatibility with Australian-manufactured 155 mm munitions. A team comprising NIOA, Rheinmetall Waffe Munition, Rheinmetall Denel Munition, Nitrochemie and Junghans Defence, will supply various conventional and specialised 155 mm rounds to the Australian Army.

“While we know in isolation the AS9’s [Korean-made] cannon is safe and in isolation the ammunition is safe, this testing makes sure they are compatible,” said Major Brendan Kelleher of the DoD’s Land 8116 project team.

Further testing in Korea will centre on gathering ballistics data required for the AS9’s Advanced Field Artillery Tactical Data System, which is used to calculate and co-ordinate fires.

The DoD said additional testing will be conducted in Australia, which will validate the AS9’s ability to withstand small-arms fire and shrapnel. It had performed blast testing of a full-sized AS9 hull in Israel to determine the effects of mine blasts on instrumented dummies sat within.

The AS9 is based on Hanwha Aerospace’s K9 Thunder system, which is already in service with the Republic of Korea Army (RoKA) as well as seven other countries and on order by Australia and Egypt.

Under the Land 8116 Phase 1 programme worth around A$1 billion, the first three Australian Army systems– comprising two AS9 SPHs) and one AS10 armoured ammunition resupply vehicle (AARV) – are being manufactured at Hanwha’s production plant in Changwon, South Korea while the remaining 28 AS9 SPHs and 14 AS10 AARVs will be locally manufactured in Australia by Hanwha Defense Australia (HDA) at the Hanwha Armoured Vehicle Centre of Excellence (H-ACE) from 2024

“The first AS9 to be completed in Australia is expected to roll out the door by the end of 2025,” the DoD stated.

by Jr Ng