The presentation has taken place at the Changwon Hanwha Defense plant, 300 kilometres southeast of Seoul. The 24 guns have been rolled out in less than 2 months after the executory agreement was signed, on delivery of 212 howitzer platforms in total. The deliveries are to include a training/logistics support package and munitions and have been scheduled to last until 2026.
The event involved around 150 distinguished guests, including Eom Dong-hwan - Minister of DAPA, and Lt. General Eom Yong-jin - Chief of the ROKAF Logistics Command, Major Gen. Maciej Jabłoński, Polish Land Forces Inspector, and Piotr Ostaszewski, Polish Ambassador to South Korea.
24 howitzers were rolled out during the event. Other Hanwha Defense vehicles were showcased: K10 Ammunition Resupply Vehicle, K77 Fire Direction Center Vehicle, K21 IFV, KAAV amphibious platform, and Arion SMET UGV. Missiles and aerospace engines manufactured by the Hanwha Defense were also displayed.
"Today's rollout of K9PL Self-Propelled Howitzers represents our firm commitment to satisfying the needs of Poland," said Lee Boo-hwan, Executive Vice President of Hanwha Defense's Overseas Business Division. "We are very confident about our strong production capacity to deliver best-quality products on time."
The framework agreement signed on 27th July in Warsaw assumes that a total of 672 K9A1/K9PL howitzers would be delivered. The first 212 have been ordered in August, with a large quantity of ammunition, and maintenance/training packages. The price tag here is defined as USD 2.4 billion. The deliveries would be happening until 2026, while the 24 showcased guns would be commissioned in the 11th "Mazurski" Artillery Regiment by the end of 2022.
All howitzers are expected to be integrated with the Polish C2 network, and the Topaz fire control system. WB Group and Hanwha Defense concluded a relevant integration agreement regarding the first 212 guns back in September. During the second phase of the undertaking, 460 K9PL howitzers are to be manufactured in Poland, domestically. As the Polish MoD announced, the K9PL system is to make use of the K9A2 technologies - including the autoloader system that made it possible to reduce the crew needed to operate the howitzer to 3 soldiers.
"Hanwha will be the best and most reliable partner for Poland, contributing to the Polish defense capability and industry growth," said Son Jaeil, President and CEO of Hanwha Defense. "Moreover, we will take the lead in the globalization of South Korean weapons systems and continue efforts to develop global too-class defense products to meet the expectations of our customers around the globe."
The K9A1 is operated by a crew of 4. The howitzer features a gun with a 52-calibre long barrel, offering a range exceeding 40 kilometres, or even 50 kilometres if special extended-range munitions are employed. The platform is powered by a 1,000 HP MTU MT 881 Ka-500 engine, providing the gun with a top speed of 67 kilometres per hour, and a range of 480 kilometres.