AS9 Huntsman self-propelled howitzer undergoes local test firing

AS9 Huntsman
AS9 Huntsman

The Australian Army has test-fired “hundreds” of artillery rounds from an AS9 Huntsman 155 mm/52 calibre self-propelled howitzer (SPH), the Australian Department of Defence (DoD) announced on 5 December.

According to the DoD, the testing at the Proof and Experimental Establishment in Port Wakefield was conducted in late November and overseen by the Joint Proof and Experimental Unit (JPEU).

It added that the army fired “hundreds of 155 mm shells” in the drill to verify various ammunition and propellant types. The AS9, which features a semi-automatic loading system, can fire three rounds in a 15-second burst with a sustained rate of six to eight rounds every minute until it expends its on board magazine.

The Australian DoD awarded a A$1 billion contract to Hanwha Defense Australia (HDA) in 2021 to supply 30 AS9 155 mm SPHs and 15 AS10 armoured ammunition resupply vehicles (AARVs) under the Land 8116 Phase 1 programme.

The first three systems were 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 HDA at the Hanwha Armoured Vehicle Centre of Excellence (H-ACE) from 2024. Deliveries of Australian-made systems are expected to commence from 2025.

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 Egypt.

The Australian Army earlier performed a successful test-firing of the AS9 in South Korea in July, which validated the AS9’s automated loading capabilities and its compatibility with Australian-manufactured 155 mm munitions.

The DoD earlier 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.

by Jr Ng