TechRomania nears purchase of South Korean howitzers, K9 Thunder, shaking up their military firepower

Romania nears purchase of South Korean howitzers, K9 Thunder, shaking up their military firepower

K9 Thunder during range shooting.
K9 Thunder during range shooting.
Images source: © Ministry of National Defense

8:55 PM EST, January 24, 2024

According to the DefenseRomania portal, as of January 11, all offers had been received - reportedly, the Koreans have agreed to provide additional supplies for the K10 ammunition vehicle and have consented to contractual penalties equal to 0.1 per cent of the contract value for each day of delivery delay.

The agreed upon penalties are substantial sums. In the case of Romania, the only firm willing to accept such stringent conditions was the Israeli firm Elbit, for the delivery of Watchkeeper X drones. This gives the South Korean K9 Thunder a considerable advantage in the procedure for 54 howitzers, over its competitors, the German PzH 2000 and the Turkish T-155 Fırtına II.

K9 Thunder — a highly sought-after export hit from South Korea

Romania is very likely to purchase an upgraded variant of the K9 Thunder, in the same fashion as Poland did not long ago. This is a modified version of the classic K9 Thunder manufactured by the Hanwha corporation (formerly known as Samsung Techwin) since 1999.

This refers to a 51.8-ton howitzer built on a tracked chassis, outfitted with a 155mm caliber gun mounted on a turret. This gun, being 52 calibers long, has a range of 18.64 miles when using the most affordable ammunition like the DM121 projectiles. Using slightly pricier ammunition combined with a gas generator extends the range to 24.85 miles. This level of performance already outstrips Soviet-era equipment. The use of rocket-boosted or sub-caliber projectiles such as the Vulcano GLR can extend the range further to approximately 37.28 miles and 49.71 miles respectively.

The K9 Thunder requires a crew of five soldiers for operation and can fire at a rate of up to 6 shots per minute. Like any new system, it's capable of firing in a destructive MRSI mode, where three fired projectiles fall on the target simultaneously. Such capabilities make the K9 Thunder a massive leap forward for Romanian artillerymen, who currently operate towed howitzers in 122mm and 150mm calibers.

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