Egypt will begin local manufacture of K9 self-propelled howitzers next year following an order for hundreds of the systems from South Korea’s Hanwha Defence.
Mohamed Ahmed Morsi, Egypt’s minister of state for military production, told Al-Ahram last month that local production will eventually see 67% of components being produced in Egypt. Training workers and equipping the K9 assembly factory is underway.
In February this year Egypt and Hanwha Defence signed a roughly $1.7 billion agreement for the acquisition of K9 Thunder self-propelled howitzers. Around 200 artillery systems will be supplied along with support vehicles including the K10 ammunition resupply vehicle and K11 fire control vehicle, Defense News reported.
Hanwha said the first batch of K9A1 EGY systems will be delivered before 2025, with the remainder to be produced at the state-run Military Factory 200 in Egypt through technology transfer. In addition, Hanwha Defence is committed to providing a variety of support programmes, including user trainings and organizational/field/depot maintenance.
In addition to local manufacture, Egypt hopes to export the K9 to African and Arab countries. “We have already started bilateral negotiations with a number of Arab and African countries that want to get the K9 because the cannon is the latest in the world,” Morsi said.
Egypt will be getting the first ever naval K9 variant, as the Egyptian Navy had long sought to acquire the K9 as an anti-access/area denial weapon system, and the K9 successfully proved its access denial capability by hitting targets precisely at sea during tests and evaluations in 2017.
Egypt has been eyeing the K9 since 2010 when a memorandum of understanding on defence cooperation was signed between Egypt and South Korea. Egypt has for years expressed interest in acquiring new self-propelled howitzers, most likely to replace its M109s (Egypt has more than 170 M109A5s in service). Amongst options it examined were the French Caesar, the K9, the Russian 2S35 Koalitsiya-SV, and Chinese PLZ-45. Around 2017, the Caesar was trialled in Egypt.
Equipped with a rotating turret that can traverse through a full 360 degrees, the 47-ton K9 vehicle is powered by a 1 000 hp diesel engine, giving a top speed of 67 km/h. It is armoured against 155 mm shell splinters and 14.5 mm armour-piercing shells. The system can fire its first round within 30 seconds from a stationary position and within 60 seconds while moving, with a burst rate of fire from six to eight rounds per minute or 2-3 rounds per minute for an hour. Firing range is 18-50 km depending on ammunition used.
The K10 ammunition resupply vehicle carries a total of 104 rounds and possesses the same mobility as the K9. The K11 fire control vehicle is a new vehicle to be developed for the Egyptian military. Using the K9 chassis, the command-post vehicle will be equipped with a range of high-tech sensor and communication equipment in accordance with operational requirements of the Egyptian Army and Navy, Hanwha said.