SP Guide Publications puts forth a well compiled articulation of issues, pursuits and accomplishments of the Indian Army, over the years

— General Manoj Pande, Indian Army Chief

I am confident that SP Guide Publications would continue to inform, inspire and influence.

— Admiral R. Hari Kumar, Indian Navy Chief

My compliments to SP Guide Publications for informative and credible reportage on contemporary aerospace issues over the past six decades.

— Air Chief Marshal V.R. Chaudhari, Indian Air Force Chief

Hanwha Aerospace Takes Centre Stage

Hanwha Aerospace, a rising Star in the Global Land Systems Industry, is transforming Land Systems Solutions with Cutting-Edge Technology

Issue 4 - 2023
Land Systems Solutions from Hanwha Aerospace (clockwise from top left) - K9 Thunder Artillery Gun; Redback Combat Vehicle; Arion-SMET Unmanned System and K30 BiHo Hybrid Air Defence Gun Missile System.

South Korean defence firm, Hanwha Aerospace has emerged as a major player in the global land systems market. “Aiming to become one of the top land systems solution provider in the world, we put a top priority on developing sophisticated technology.” said Son Jae-il, President & CEO of Hanwha Aerospace. “Aligned with the South Korean Government’s ‘K-Defence Globalisation Strategy, we will accelerate provision of advanced defence solution in the global market.”

In addition to highly successful artillery systems such as the K9 Self-Propelled Howitzer (SPH), Hanwha Aerospace also produces armoured air defence systems such as the K30 Hybrid BiHo Gun Missile System, as well as the Infantry Fighting Vehicle (IFV) such as the Redback, and Unmanned Ground Vehicle (UGV) such as Arion-SMET.

Australia recently has selected the Redback for its armoured vehicle modernisation program following the ongoing acquisition of the K9 SPH and K10 fully automated Armoured Ammunition Resupply Vehicle. Localised K9 SPH will be called the AS9 Huntsman by the Australian armed forces.

K9 Thunder Export

The 155mm/52-calibre SPH, K9 Thunder is the world’s best-selling artillery and nearly 1,800 units are in service with Turkey, Poland, Finland, Norway, India, Estonia as well as South Korea. The Korean built SPH has proven its operational capability in various environments, from deserts to snowy fields. The K9 Thunder has also been selected by Egypt and Australia. Korea has offered longterm support and maintenance packages for the K9 deals. Also, one of competitive factors is collaboration with local partner. Hanwha Aerospace is able to provide the solution for establishment of local production facilities, transferring manufacturing technologies.

K9 Thunder Upgrade

Under the K9 development roadmap, Hanwha Aerospace is now developing the K9A2, which is to be equipped with a fully automated loading system instead of the semi auto-loader for the existing variants. The fully automatic turret will allow K9A2 to fire with rate of nine+ rounds per minute and reduce the operating crews from five to three.

The autoloading K9A2 will be further upgraded to an AI-based A3 standard that can be operated autonomously, providing crewed and uncrewed teaming operations in the future battlefield. Fitted with an increased barrel of 58 calibre, the K9A3 is envisaged to serve as a node to remote-control other crewed and uncrewed SPHs. The K9A3 will be operated optionally for fully automatic turret either with or without driver in assigned units, which will enhance tactical flexibility with reduced crew exposure.

K9 Vajra for India

100 units of ‘K9 Vajra-T’ which is modified system for India were supplied to the Indian Army and deployed on both its western and eastern borders. As per the MoD’s order on 2017 May, Hanwha Aerospace’s partner in India, L&T has successfully completed all deliveries ahead of schedule in February 2021.

K9 Vajra-T was largely made in India while L&T put in sustainable efforts and innovation in indigenisation. Fourteen indigenously developed critical systems were applied to the prototype for user evaluation trials, including the Fire Control System, Direct Fire System, and the Ammunition Handling System.

The Gun is also equipped with other India specific modifications for desert conditions such as Auxiliary Power Pack (APU), Air-conditioning Systems, Fire Fighting Systems, and Nuclear Biological Chemical (NBC) Protection Systems which are being indigenously produced.

K9 Vajra-T systems delivered by L&T feature more than 80% indigenous work packages. L&T has painstakingly built supply chain of more than 1,000 partners. Then, the over 13,000 components needed per system, have been locally sourced from a supply chain spread across Gujarat, Maharashtra, Karnataka, and Tamil Nadu.

Indian Army is now progressing the procurement of additional 100 units of K9 Vajra-T SPH from L&T under Make in India. Currently the procurement case is progressing on fast-track basis and is expected to be finalised by end of this year. Hanwha and L&T are doing the modifications on K9 Vajra-T for operation on the high-altitude areas in India.

In terms of international politics, there are various factors. India is an important member of the Quad, which includes the United States. Although Korea is not an official member of the Quad, but they are a strong ally of the United States and actively participate as an observer or partner in military alliances like the Quad and AUKUS. Therefore, India is a valuable and strategic partner for South Korea. The strong foundation between Korea and India suggests that the defence sector holds significant potential for collaboration and growth.