K9 Thunder

The K9 Thunder is a South Korean self-propelled 155 mm howitzer developed by Samsung Techwin for the Republic of Korea Armed Forces. It was developed to supplement and then replace the K55 self-propelled howitzers in South Korean service. K9 howitzers operate in groups with the K10 automatic ammunition resupply vehicle.

K9 Thunder
Class Vehicle
Type Self-Propelled artillery
Manufacturer Samsung Techwin
Origin South Korea
Country Name Origin Year
South Korea 1999
Country Name Operational Year Retirement Year
South Korea 1999 View
ManufacturerName Production From Production To Quantity
Samsung Techwin 1999 View

The development program of this 155 mm/52-caliber self-propelled howitzer has been underway since 1989. In 1996 the first prototype of this new artillery system was tested. The contract for the new K9 artillery system was awarded to Samsung Aerospace Industries (SSA) by the Korean Government on 22 December 1998. Republic of Korea Army received its first batch of K9 in 1999.

The K9 was involved in the Bombardment of Yeonpyeong between North and South Korean artillery units on 23 November 2010.

K9 is an indigenous system of an all-welded steel armour construction which is rated to withstand 14.5 mm armour piercing rounds, 152 mm shell fragments, and anti-personnel mines. The main armament consists of a 155 mm/52 caliber ordnance with a maximum firing range of 40 km. State-of-the-art mobility subsystems include a 1,000 horsepower (750 kW) engine with potential for growth and hydropneumatic suspension unit, a requirement for Korea's rugged mountainous terrain.

It was designed to give the artillery arm of the Republic of Korea Army a significant improvement in capability. With a claimed range of 40 km, it offers greater mobility, longer range, higher rate of fire, and increased battlefield survivability, as it can quickly be brought into action, open fire, and come out of action. It is less likely to be engaged by counter-battery fire, by relying on shoot-and-scoot. The unit also supports full CBRN protection.

The K9 Thunder saw the first combat during the Bombardment of Yeonpyeong on November 23, 2010. Six ROKMC howitzers engaged against the surprise attack from the North Korean artillery. Prior to the battle, the howitzers returned from a scheduled firing exercise, using the most of shells stored within the howitzer. In addition, one howitzer experienced a problem during the exercise that a shell became stuck in the barrel, disabling it from use. Two units received slight damage on firing control system during initial North Korean attack, making only three out of six units were able to counterattack. Eventually, the howitzer that had problem on its barrel joined on second counterattack after receiving field repair. K9 fought back in the ratio of shooting one shell every one minute and 30 second, because the marines had to carry the shell from the armory and manually load to the howitzer under heavy fire. On the other hand, a staff officer explained to President Lee Myung-bak that the K-9 can actually only shoot one round per minute.

Type Self-propelled artillery
Place of origin South Korea
Service history
In service 1999 - present

Production history
Designer Samsung Techwin
Designed 1989–1998
Manufacturer Samsung Techwin
Unit cost $3.1 million
Produced 1999–present
Variants K10, T-155 'Firtina' (Storm)
Weight 47 tonnes (K9)
Length 12 m
Width 3.4 m
Height 2.73 m
Crew 5 (Commander, Driver, Gunner, 2 Loaders)
Maximum firing range 30,000 m (HE)
38,000 m (DP-ICM base bleed)
41,600 m (Extended range full-bore-base)
52-56,000 m (BB+RAP extended range)
52 cal (155mm howitzer)
12.7 mm (.50 caliber) K6 HMG
Engine MTU MT 881 Ka-500 8-cylinder water-cooled diesel
1000 hp
Power/weight 21 hp/ton
Transmission S&T Dynamics X1100-5A3
Suspension hydropneumatic
480 km
Speed 67 km/h

End notes