The Commonwealth has released a sole-source Request for Tender to Hanwha Defence Australia (HDA) for the provision of 30 K9 Huntsman self-propelled howitzers (SPH) and 15 K10 armoured ammunition resupply vehicles (AARV) under the Australian Army’s Project LAND 8116 Phase 1 protected mobility fires (PMF) requirement.
The RFT is for the first of three phases for the project. As announced in the 2020 Force Structure Plan (FSP), the follow-on Phase 2 to add additional PMF capability is expected to commence in the late 2020s, while a nascent Phase 3 will deliver a mid-life upgrade with new technologies in the 2030s. The K9 Huntsman is a 52 calibre, 155 mm gun based on a KF-21 infantry fighting vehicle chassis.
“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,” Defence Minister Senator Linda Reynolds said in a statement.
“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.”
Richard Cho, managing director of HDA said in a separate company statement, “This is a tremendous outcome for our company and we very much appreciate the Commonwealth placing their trust in Hanwha for this opportunity.
“By beginning this journey with Hanwha, the Commonwealth will reap the benefits of being part of a global community of more than 2,400 K9/K10 SPH systems worldwide with all of the sustainment, training, and global supply opportunities that this will bring.”
Hanwha says its Geelong facility is expected to serve as an alternative sustainment and supply chain base for the global K9 family of vehicles, including those of the Republic of Korea. “This is a different approach to just building and exporting, which given the increasing trend of localisation being demanded globally,” Mr Cho added.
“With this Government announcement, work will commence immediately to implement our plan for the building of facilities and skilling of the local Geelong based work force.”
Army’s SPH requirement was resurrected during 2019’s election campaign, with a promise to build the vehicles in Geelong which sits astride the marginal federal seats of Corangamite and Corio, although ADBR understands discussions had been ongoing with Hanwha since late 2018.
Hanwha – then as Samsung – had previously teamed with Raytheon to offer the K9 for the previous LAND 17 SPH requirement which was cancelled in 2010, but has proposed to go it alone with the K9 for LAND 8116.