Prospect of Romania acquiring 155mm K9 howitzers is on the horizon

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As per recent reports on Defense Romania’s website, Romanian authorities are laying the groundwork for a new program that will oversee the procurement of 155-mm self-propelled howitzers, along with fostering collaboration with the contractor for their production. 

Photo credit: Hanwha Defense

The “South Korea-Romania Defense Industry Cooperation Conference-2023”, spearheaded by the South Korean Embassy in Romania, saw representatives from South Korean defense giant Hanwha unveiling their plans to infiltrate the Romanian market with their K9 self-propelled howitzers and the Redback infantry fighting vehicle [IPV]. 

Daniela Nicolescu, the State Secretary of the Romanian Ministry of Economy, Entrepreneurship and Tourism, has also corroborated discussions about manufacturing components for the K9 howitzers. 

In late April, a request was forwarded by the Romanian Ministry of National Defense to the parliament seeking approval for several programs, including the acquisition of 155 mm self-propelled howitzers. The proposed program, which envisages the procurement of five divisions of 155-mm self-propelled howitzers, is pegged at an estimated cost of 1.923 billion dollars with a plan to purchase up to 54 units. 

Near future acquisition

Photo credit: Wikipedia

The commencement of the howitzer acquisition is slated for the near future. Earlier in February 2023, Hanwha Aerospace and Romanian state-owned defense firm Romarm inked a memorandum of understanding for the supply of the K9 155 mm self-propelled howitzer and infantry fighting vehicle. 

A representative from Hanwha stated that apart from collaborative production, Romania could potentially join the “K9 Club”, an exclusive group comprising 5 NATO countries. The club, formed in April 2022 in Changwon, is a platform for sharing insights, knowledge, and expertise related to the operation, maintenance, and training of armed forces personnel across seven nations: the Republic of Korea, India, Norway, Finland, Poland, Turkey, and Estonia. 

NATO member nations that have previously procured the K9 howitzer include Norway, Finland, Poland, Turkey, and Estonia. To date, the howitzer has found buyers in 9 countries globally. 

About K9 Thunder self-propelled howitzer

The K9 Thunder is a 155-mm tracked self-propelled howitzer equipped with a 52-caliber barrel, capable of annihilating targets over 40 km away, depending on the ammunition used. The howitzer weighs in at 47 tons, with the additional armament of a 12.7-mm machine gun. The K9’s armor offers protection against shrapnel and gunfire. 

Photo credit: Hanwha Defense

Its 1000 hp diesel engine and automatic gearbox ensure high speed and mobility across diverse terrains. The upgraded K9A1 version boasts a slew of enhancements. 

Focus has been centered on augmenting the effectiveness and firing range up to 54 km, bolstering situational awareness, and improving crew comfort.

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