AS9 Huntsman: Australia's Future Self-propelled Howitzer | Defence Database
AS9 Huntsman: Australia's Future Self-propelled Howitzer
Posted by: Andrei Dcs on 2021-05-09 01:52:39

Australia will purchase 30 155 mm K9 Thunder self-propelled howitzers plus 15 K10 refueling vehicles.

It is a considerable step towards modernizing Australian artillery, which is based exclusively on the classic towed howitzers.

Currently, self-propelled howitzers are a category of weapons missing from the Australian Army, as are the reactive artillery systems.

But the Australian Army is also on track to address these shortcomings, and additionally to self-propelled howitzers, multiple missile launchers will also be purchased in near future.

Picture Author: 육군포병학교 / Wikimedia Source: [link] / Main Source: [link]

Australia is consistently arming itself

In recent years, Australia has embarked on major modernization programs to acquire sophisticated weapons.

The procurement programs launched by Canberra cover all the service branches of the Australian Armed Forces.

Thus, the Royal Australian Air Force is equipped with the new F-35 aircraft, the Naval Forces will expand considerably with new frigates and submarines, and the Land Forces will radically change their fleet of armored fighting vehicles.

The Australian Army has already received the first Boxer 8x8 armored personnel carriers and will soon be equipped with a tracked armored vehicle under the LAND 400 Phase 2 program.

The future infantry fighting machine will either be the South Korean AS21 Redback or the Lynx KF-41 developed by the German company Rheinmetall.

But the Australian military is not just about these armored combat vehicles.

Self-propelled howitzers for the Australian Army

Another major program is the acquisition of self-propelled howitzers, especially since this category of weapons is missing from the inventory of the Australian Army.

Currently, the Australian artillery consists of 54 M777A2 155 mm towed howitzers.

Australia also has a total of 36 155 mm M198 howitzers, as ewll as 122 105 mm L118/L119 howitzers, but all of these aren't active, being in reserve.

Also, in addition to the classic towed howitzers, the Australian army also has 81 mm and 60 mm mortars.

The 155 mm caliber M777A2 towed howitzer

The main artillery piece of the Australian Army is the British 155 mm M777A2 howitzer.

In the first phase of the Land 17 project, the Australian Army acquired 35 M777 towed howitzers from the UK.

The first such 155 mm caliber howitzers were received in 2010.

In 2012, another 19 units were purchased by the Australian Army, with a total of 54 M777 howitzers in Australia's inventory.

Multiple Rocket Launchers for the Australian Armed Forces

Self-propelled howitzers are not the only category of high-performance artillery weapons currently missing from the Australian Army inventory.

The Australian Army also lacks reactive artillery, having no multiple missile launcher systems.

But even this shortcoming is about to be remedied, with the Canberra government planning to acquire such systems in this decade.

Thus, Australians are interested in obtaining a multiple missile launcher system with a maximum firing range of up to 300 kilometers in order to provide adequate fire support to Australian troops.

One such high-performance system is the American M142 HIMARS multiple rocket launcher, capable of firing the ATACMS tactical ballistic missile.

The most recent users of this system and also the first NATO allies of the United States to acquire HIMARS are Romania and Poland.

K9 Huntsman, the future self-propelled howitzer of the Australian Army

Returning to self-propelled howitzers, the Australian Government has been planning for several years to purchase such artillery systems for the Australian Army.

The K9 Thunder howitzer, manufactured by the South Korean company Hanwha Defense, has been considered before, being a candidate in the Phase 1C of the Australian Land 17 Artillery Replacement Program.

This program was finally canceled in May 2012, but the acquisition of such systems by the end of the decade was resumed.

On May 13, 2019, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrsion announced that Australia would directly purchase 30 K9 Thunder self-propelled howitzers as well as 10 K10 automatic ammunition resupply vehicles.

At the date of the announcement, no time limit was submitted related to the signing of the contract for the acquisition of the K9 Thunder.

The following year, on September 3, 2020, the Australian Ministry of Defense issued a call for tender Hanwha Defense for 30 K9 Thunder systems.

These howitzers are part of the Land 8116 Phase 1 Protected Mobility Fires program, and will be locally built by the Australian division of Hanwha.

Thus, Hanwha Defense Australia will produce at its Geelong facility a total of 30 K9 howitzers and 15 K10 Ammunition Resupply Vehicles (ARV).

Hanwha's Australian division will also maintain these high-performance artillery systems throughout their operating life-span.

The new Australian self-propelled howitzer will be designated AS9 Huntsman and will be equipped with the fire control system produced by Kongsberg.

The South Korean company Hanwha Defense also participates in the Land Phase 400 program.

Land Phase 400 program is Australia's program for acqiuring new tracked infantry fighting vehicles for the Australian Army.

Hanwha Defense is offering to Australia the AS21 Redback IFV, while its contender, German company Rheinmetall offers the Lynx KF41 IFV.

K9 Thunder self-propelled howitzer

K9 Thunder is a 155 mm self-propelled howitzer, currently manufactured by the South Korean company Hanwha Defense.

The K9 Thunder is a 47-tonne armored vehicle considered as one of the best self-propelled howitzers in the world.

It uses a 155 mm and 52 caliber long Hyundai WIA CN98 cannon and has a maximum firing distance of 52 km.

Currently, the South Koreans are also developing projectiles capable of reaching a distance of over 100 km.

K9 entered the service of the South Korean Army since 1999 and the howitzer currently manufactured by Hanwha proved to be a real success on the international market, being exported to other states.

External clients include Estonia, Finland, India, Norway, Poland and Turkey.

In Turkey it is produced under license under the name T-155 Firtina while the Poles obtained the license for the K9 chassis and further developed the AHS Krab.

The Polish Krab SpH uses the K9 Thunder chassis and the 155 mm cannon of the British AS90 howitzer.

The Australian Army will considerably increase its offensive capacity

The acquisition of self-propelled howitzers will substantially increase the offensive capacity of the Australian.

This capacity will be consistently increased by a further acquisition of reactive artillery systems with a maximum firing range of 300 kilometers.

Thus, the Australian Army will radically transform its artillery units, by acquiring offensive systems with in-depth striking capabilities, a feature that the Australian Army does not currently have.