SEOUL, ($1=1,203.40 South Korean Won) — Egypt will pay South Korea $ 1.7 billion to acquire about 200 K9 Thunder howitzers after the two sides agreed yesterday, January 1st. BulgariaMilitary.com reported last week that negotiations between Cairo and Seoul are at an advanced stage and are being conducted at the government-to-government level. BulgariaMilitary.com recalls that Egypt’s desire to acquire the South Korean K9 self-propelled howitzer was demonstrated at a meeting last month in Cairo between South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El Sisi.
- Egypt seeks howitzers, Korea’s armored K9s 155mm are an option
- South Korea will have a new self-propelled howitzer with an unmanned turret
- Australia acquires 155mm artillery gun firing three shells in 15 seconds
The deal is excellent for both countries. South Korea describes the agreement as “K9’s largest foreign purchase.” Egypt is expected to inject the local economy with fresh funds, as much of the artillery and vehicles will be produced in the country. According to DefenseNews sources, Factory 200, located on the outskirts of Cairo, will begin production of the K9 Thunder under license.
“The latest deal is the first export of the K9 Self-Propelled Howitzer to Africa following the artillery’s successful exports to European and Asia-Pacific nations,” the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) said. “This is the largest K9 deal in scale, making Egypt the eighth country to operate the K9.”
Egyptian sources at BulgarianMilitary.com say that the leaders of the Egyptian artillery and ground forces have assessed the capabilities of K9 nearly 10 years ago. K9 Thunder represents nearly 50% of the international market for self-propelled howitzers. Australia was the last country [before Egypt] to acquire the K9, and the same howitzer is in service in South Korea, Turkey, Poland, India, Finland, Norway, and Estonia. K9 Thunder is considered the world’s best self-propelled howitzer, according to many military experts.
Facts about K9 Thunder
The manufacturer of K9 Thunder is the South Korean company Hanwha Defense. The design of the first K9 was completed on the drawing board in 1989. One year later, the first serial production began. In 2018, Hanwha Defense makes a major update to the self-propelled howitzer to reach the current level.
K9 fires an artillery shell at a maximum distance of 50 km. Depending on the ammunition used, the range of shooting is different – from 18 to 50 km. The K9’s gun is 155 mm, and the self-propelled howitzer meets all requirements of NATO standards.
The howitzer can shoot from motion and at rest. It deploys extremely quickly, with the first shot reproduced 30 seconds after deployment. The howitzer has an extremely high level of armor and can guarantee the protection of the crew and equipment from 155 mm projectile fragments, 14.5 mm armor-piercing cartridges/projectiles, and anti-personnel mines. The steel from which the bumper is made is also a local development.
K9 works are powered by a German engine STX-MTU MT881Ka-500, which provides 735 kW at 2,700 rpm and 1,000 horsepower.
To avoid hacking during operation, the fire control system works under text DOS commands and graphical Windows. K9 has all modern sensors and navigation tools.
Factory 200 near Cairo
Factory 200 [Abu Zaabal Tank Repair Factory] was born during negotiations between Egypt and the United States in 1984 when Washington agreed to help Egypt build one of the largest military factories in the world. Three years later, Factory 200 became the largest non-US Abrams A1 tank factory.
Factor 200 is a production and repair plant for heavily armored combat vehicles, mainly tanks. General Dynamics Land Systems is transferring some of its technology solutions to Factory 200, and all Egyptian staff is trained and highly qualified. Factory 200 is said to have produced at least 1,500 Abrams A1 tanks, with Egypt alone having about 1,360 units. Factory 200 does not carry out civil proceedings.
The new K9 Thunder
According to the South Korean concern Hanhwa Defense, work has begun on a new version of the K9 Thunder self-propelled howitzer with an unmanned turret. State research on this variant, designated K9A2, were supposed to start in 2021
The latest version of the K9 is to be equipped with a fully unmanned turret system with a fully automatic ammunition loading and handling system. This is to significantly increase the rate of fire and reduce the number of crew members. Initial research and development on this version of K9 is expected to be completed within the next few years.
According to the plan, the K9A2 is to participate in the program of purchasing a new self-propelled howitzer for the British Army, which plans to eventually replace and withdraw the currently operated AS90s from the line service.
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