• A K9 self-propelled howitzer. Credit: Hanwha
    A K9 self-propelled howitzer. Credit: Hanwha

Updated 10:34 am

The government has just announced that Hanwha Defence Australia (HDA) has been chosen to build 30 self-propelled howitzers for the ADF under a sole source smart buyer decision.

The Request for Tender will be released to preferred supplier HDA to build and maintain 30 self-propelled howitzers and 15 armoured ammunition resupply vehicles, and their supporting systems.

Minister for Defence Linda Reynolds said it marks a key step in progressing the project.

“Through this project, this Government is delivering the capability Army needs while creating local jobs in and around Geelong that will grow our highly skilled workforce,” Minister Reynolds said.

“This comes at an important time as Victoria deals with its latest outbreak of COVID-19.

“The acquisition of this capability will provide the ADF with the mobility, lethality and protection required to support Joint Force operations in the land domain.

“The self-propelled howitzers will be built in the Geelong region, with ongoing deep maintenance conducted in the same Australian facility to support the systems throughout their service life.”

The Request for Tender will progress this first phase of the Protected Mobile Fires capability. For Land 8116, Hanwha has developed the Huntsman Family of Vehicles, comprising the K9 SPH and the K10 Armoured Ammunition Resupply Vehicle (AARV) to deliver a complete mission system.

These will be designated as the AS9 SPH and the AS10 AARV respectively for the Australian market.

The Huntsman SPH is a 50 tonne, 52 calibre, 155mm platform capable of taking advantage of current and emerging 155mm munitions technologies. It has a crew of four or five depending on the configuration with an ammunition capacity of up to 48 rounds and accompanying modular charge systems.

The Kongsberg ODIN Fire Control System, which sits within the broader Kongsberg Integrated Combat System, allows passage of information to the Advanced Field Artillery Tactical Data System (AFATDS) forming the core of the C4I system.

The AS10 AARV is a largely robotised system built on the same chassis as the K9. It holds 104 rounds of 155mm ammunition and is used to provide ammunition resupply under armour and forward to the artillery unit.

“This is a tremendous outcome for our company and we very much appreciate the Commonwealth placing their trust in Hanwha for this opportunity," Richard Cho, Managing Director of HDA, said. "We are working towards ensuring that our Geelong facility will be viewed as an alternative sustainment and supply chain base for the global K9 family of vehicles."

“This project builds on our efforts to strengthen Australia’s Defence industry capability, and represents a program of continuous investment well into the next decade in the Geelong region,” Minister for Defence Industry, Melissa Price said.

“This project is expected to create up to 350 jobs to build and maintain the new vehicles. It will also provide significant opportunities in other areas such as transport and warehousing, as well as component manufacture and repair.

Senator for Victoria, Sarah Henderson said opportunities in the local Geelong area extend through the supply chain.

“These opportunities will include future mid-life upgrades, harnessing emerging technologies to enhance the protection, firepower and mobility of Australia’s protected mobile fires capability,” Senator Henderson said.

“The announcement of this next important stage of the Howitzer Defence Project is wonderful news for the people of Geelong and our city’s manufacturing sector.”

Land 8116 Phase 2, announced in the 2020 Force Structure Plan, is anticipated to commence in the late 2020s, delivering additional Protected Mobile Fires capability, and Land 8116 Phase 3 is anticipated to commence in the mid-2030s, delivering a mid-life upgrade that will provide an opportunity to incorporate emerging technologies.

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