Romania looks set to acquire South Korea’s K9 self-propelled howitzer

South Korea defence prime Hanwha Aerospace looks set to sign a US$ 920 million contract with Romania for K9 155mm self-propelled howitzers (SPHs) and associated vehicles in what would be the largest deal for the central eastern European country in recent years.

The proposed deal was revealed during a bilateral meeting between Romanian Defence Minister Angel Tilvar and his South Korean counterpart Shin Won-sik on 19 June, when Tilvar made known Bucharest’s intent to acquire the artillery system. The ministers also called for close cooperation with the international community to address the growing threat from Russia and North Korea.

The announcement follows a Romania-South Korea summit in April where leaders from both sides promised to boost defence industry cooperation. It was earlier reported that Romania plans to acquire over 50 K9 SPHs and about 36 support vehicles, with the first tranche of howitzers to be manufactured by Hanwha in South Korea and the remainder to be produced in Romania via transfer of production technology and technical knowhow.

Developed in 1998 by the state-owned Agency for Defense Development (ADD) and Hanwha, the K9 has been adopted by nine countries – Australia, Egypt, Estonia, Finland, India, Norway, Poland, and Turkey – since 2001.

The K9 is equipped with the 155mm/52-calibre gun designed to fire a range of standard and extended-range munitions. With its automatic fire control system, the howitzer can fire within 30 seconds from a stationary position and 60 seconds while on move, with a maximum rate of fire from six to eight rounds per minute.

The K9 is also becoming the most widely used artillery system on NATO’s eastern flank, having already entered service with Poland and Estonia. Romania will be the third central eastern European country to acquire the system, together with Norway and Finland.

by Jr Ng