Polish K9 Howitzers Training in Toruń

Photo. Damian Ratka/Robert Suchy/Defence24

The first Polish K9 howitzers carried out live-fire training at the Artillery and Armament Training Centre in Toruń.

Torun has become an arena where the level of training of the 1st "Mazurska" Artillery Brigade (formed on the foundation provided by the 11th "Mazurski" Artillery Regiment) was demonstrated. The unit is a part of the 16th Mechanized Division. During that demonstration, the first firing of the Korean K9A1 systems took place. Apart from that, HSW's Krab and Rak platforms, and MLRS systems (such as the WR-40 Langusta) also took part in the event. The training involved elements with three howitzers of each type.

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The demonstration took place in the presence of Deputy PM/Head of the Polish Ministry of Defence Mariusz Błaszczak, and the Korean head of MoD, Lee-Jong-Sup, who is currently visiting Poland.

The Polish Ministry of Defence decided to procure the South Korean Hanwha Aerospace K9 systems, as some of the Polish Krab howitzers coming from the Polish Armed Forces' stockpile have been transferred to Ukraine. The manufacturing capacity that the HSW facility has is now being used to deliver another 54 Krab systems to Ukraine.

The framework agreement regarding the K9 howitzers has been signed in July 2022, and it refers to up to 672 guns. The first of the series of performance contracts was signed in August last year, covering the delivery of 212 howitzers with a logistics and training package, and several thousand rounds of ammunition - with a delivery timeline extending to 2026. The first 24 howitzers have been delivered in 2022, for the 1st "Mazurska" Artillery Brigade which is a part of the 16th Mechanized Division. Another batch of 12 systems was received by the 14th Self-Propelled Artillery Squadron of the 21st Highland Brigade belonging to the 18th Mechanized Division.

The Polish Army currently operates 36 out of 48 howitzers, destined to be delivered by 2023. These 48 howitzers come from the Korean stockpile, while the remaining ones would be brand new. Another 460 howitzers (K9PL version) would be manufactured within the framework of industrial cooperation between Poland and Korea.

All K9A1 howitzers would be equipped with the Polish Topaz fire control system manufactured by the WB Group - a standard solution used by the Polish artillery and rocket artillery elements. K9A1 howitzers feature an L52 gun that, as in the case of the Krab system, allows the user to lay down fires at a distance exceeding even 40, or 50 kilometers - when special purpose rounds are used. The platform's combat weight is 47 tonnes and it is powered by an MTU 1,000HP engine power pack. The vehicle remains capable of operating in any weather or terrain. Among the NATO nations, Finland, Estonia, and Norway also operate the K9A1.