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K9 Thunder

155 mm self-propelled howitzer

K9 Thunder SPH

The K9 Thunder self-propelled howitzer is compatible with standard NATO 155 mm ammunition

 
 
Country of origin South Korea
Entered service 1999
Crew 5 men
Dimensions and weight
Weight 47 t
Length (gun forward) 12 m
Hull length ?
Width 3.4 m
Height 2.73 m
Armament
Main gun 155 mm
Barrel length 52 calibers
Machine guns 1 x 7.62 mm
Muzzle velocity ?
Projectile weight ?
Maximum firing range 30 - 40 km
Maximum rate of fire 6 rpm
Elevation range - 2.5 to + 70 degrees
Traverse range 360 degrees
Ammunition load
Main gun 48 rounds
Machine guns ?
Mobility
Engine MTU MT 881 Ka-500 diesel
Engine power 1 000 hp
Maximum road speed 66 km/h
Range 480 km
Maneuverability
Gradient 60%
Side slope 30%
Vertical step 0.75 m
Trench 2.8 m
Fording 1.5 m

 

   The K9 Thunder self-propelled howitzer was developed as a replacement for the M109A2K, also known as the K55, self-propelled howitzers. In the late 1980s Republic of Korea Army drew up its requirements for a new indigenous 155 mm tracked howitzer to meet the requirements of 21st century. Key operational requirements included a higher rate of fire, longer range, better accuracy and faster into and out of action times. Development of the K9 Thunder began in 1989. First prototypes were completed in 1994. This artillery system entered service in 1999. Some sources report that over 300 of these howitzers are already in service with the Republic of Korea Army and 836 more are ordered. Finland ordered 48 of these howitzers for delivery in 2017.

   The main armament of the K9 Thunder consists of 155 mm/L52 howitzer, fitted with automatic shell handling and ramming system. It is compatible with standard NATO 155 mm ammunition. Maximum range of fire is 30 km with standard HE projectile and 40 km with rocket-assisted projectile.

   The K9 Thunder has a maximum rate of fire of 6 rounds per minute and is capable of multiple-round simultaneous-impact firing. It is able to fire three rounds in 15 seconds, each in different trajectories, so that all of the shells arrive on target at the same time. Sustained rate of fire is 2 rounds per minute.

   The K9 Thunder is fitted with automatic fire control system with internal navigation system and automatic gun laying systems. It takes 30 seconds to prepare to fire at emplacement and 60 seconds from movement. Vehicle can shortly leave position to avoid counter-battery fire.

   The K9 has all-welded steel hull and turret with a maximum thickness of 19 mm. It provides protection from small arms and artillery shell fragments. Vehicle is also fitted with NBC protection system.

   This self-propelled howitzer has a crew of five, consisting of commander, gunner, assistant gunner, loader and driver.

   Vehicle is powered by German MTU MT 881 Ka-500 diesel engine, developing 1 000 horsepower. Transmission of the K9 Thunder is a further development of that installed on the M1 Abrams main battle tank. The K9 is fitted with a hydropneumatic suspension.

   The K9 Thunder is resupplied form the K10 ammunition resupply vehicle. It is based on the K9 chassis. The reloading process is fully automated and can be performed without exposing the crew under enemy fire or in the contaminated areas.

 

Variants

 

   K10 ammunition resupply vehicle, based on the K9 chassis. It is used to support the K9 howitzers. South Korea ordered a total of 179 K10s.

   T-155 Firtina, Turkish self-propelled howitzer with subsystems of the K9 Thunder.

   Chassis of the K9 has been exported to Poland for their indigenous Krab 155 mm self-propelled howitzers. A first batch of Polish Krab howitzers uses a modified chassis of the PT-91 Twardy man battle tank. However since 2012 production of the engine for this chassis stopped. In 2014 it was reported that Poland plans to acquire 120 tracked chassis of the South Korean K9 for their Krab howitzers. First chassis was completed in 2015. It was planned that 36 units will be produced in South Korea and the rest 84 in Poland.

 

Video of the K9 Thunder self-propelled howitzer

 
K9 Thunder SPH

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K9 Thunder SPH

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K9 Thunder SPH

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K10 ammunition resupply vehicle

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K9 and K10

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Personal appeal from Andrius Genys

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