With more than 2,400 units delivered and ordered, half of which were exported to 8 armed forces around the world, the K9 Thunder self-propelled gun from South Korean Hanwha is undoubtedly one of the great successes of the last 30 years in the field of heavy tracked armored vehicles like self-propelled artillery.
Well protected, equipped with an automatically loading artillery system and a 155mm and 52 caliber tube giving it a range of 40 km with conventional shells and 50 km with propelled shells, and mobile thanks to its 100% turbodiesel engine. 1000 hp for a combat mass of 47 tonnes giving it a power-weight ratio of 21 hp per tonne, the K9 Thunder indeed has something to seduce.
Its attributes are all the more attractive as it is economical with a unit price of around $11 million and a developed operational environment including an armored ammunition transport with K10 automated transfer based on the same platform. fact, today, the K9A1 Thunder is undoubtedly one of the best under-armor artillery systems in service.
A few days ago, the South Korean authorities announced the financing of an evolution, K9A2, to improve the automation of the system, and to equip it with modernized communication and ballistic pointing systems, so as to increase precision, speed of insertion and exit from battery, as well as rate of fire, while improving interoperability with surrounding forces and systems.
For this, Seoul will invest 2.36 trillion won, or $1.81 billion, with the goal of having the K9A2 operational by 2027. But the Thunder story will not end there. Indeed, the South Korean armies and Hanwha Defense are working on the A3 version of the system which should enter service at the start of the next decade, and which promises very significant progress in terms of capabilities.
Indeed, like the US Army's Extended Range Cannon Artillery, or ERCA, program, the K9A3 should be equipped with a 58 caliber tube, or 58 times the diameter of the ammunition (155mm) therefore 9 meters, against 52 caliber for the K9A1/2 (8.06 meters).
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