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Korea inks $2.6B deal to deliver 159 K-9 howitzers to Poland

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South Korean Marines conduct a live-fire drill with a K-9 Thunder howitzer during the multinational Talisman Sabre exercise at Shoalwater Bay Training Area, Queensland, on July 22. [AUSTRALIAN DEPARTMENT OF DEFENCE]
South Korean Marines conduct a live-fire drill with a K-9 Thunder howitzer during the multinational Talisman Sabre exercise at Shoalwater Bay Training Area, Queensland, on July 22. [AUSTRALIAN DEPARTMENT OF DEFENCE]

Hanwha Aerospace announced Monday that it inked a 3.45-trillion-won ($2.6-billion) executive contract with Poland to deliver 159 K-9 self-propelled howitzers.

The contract promises to deliver K-9 self-propelled howitzers, ammunition, and technology transfers to Poland to enable localized maintenance of weapon systems, as well as technical support to maintain and modernize the Polish defense industry, according to the company’s news release.

The agreement is the second executive contract between Hanwha Aerospace and the Polish Armaments Agency.

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The deal is part of a larger framework agreement reached between Hanwha and Poland in July of 2022 to supply 672 K-9 howitzers and 288 Chunmoo multiple rocket launchers. The first contract was signed in August last year.

Poland became the largest customer of Korean defense systems last year after it signed contracts worth $14 billion to acquire 180 K-2 main battle tanks, 212 K-9 self-propelled howitzers and 48 FA-50 light fighters.

The deals are part of a massive rearmament push by Warsaw amid the ongoing Russian invasion of neighboring Ukraine.

As part of the agreement, Hanwha Aerospace will supply Poland with 152 K-9 self-propelled howitzers and integrated logistics support for maintenance, as well as supplies of 155-millimeter self-propelled howitzer ammunition.

In its news release, Hanwha Aerospace said the company “is committed to integrating advanced defense technologies into the fabric of the Polish defense landscape,” and that the company “aims to fortify a partnership that not only meets Poland’s immediate defense needs, but also fosters long-term resilience and innovation in the country’s defense sector.”

In comments to the media, an official from Hanwha Aerospace said that the company is “dedicated to working with our Polish partners to ensure effective and cost-saving solutions to strengthen their defense capabilities.”

The K-9, a 155-millimeter caliber self-propelled howitzer manufactured by Hanwha Aerospace, has been a major success for Korea’s defense industry since its development was completed in 1999.

Over 600 units have been exported to countries like Norway, Poland, Estonia, Finland, India and Turkey. Australia and Egypt have also inked deals within the past year to introduce the K-9 into their armed forces.

In March, Reuters reported that Seoul approved export licenses last year for Poland to provide Ukraine with 18 AHS Krab howitzers from its army reserves. Fifty-six more are being prepared for delivery, according to the Polish Press Agency on Sunday.

The Krab is comprised of a South Korean K-9 Thunder chassis, British BAE Systems turret, French Nexter Systems 155-milimeter gun, and a Polish fire control system.

On Monday, the Ukrainian Defense Ministry uploaded a post on X, formerly known as Twitter, which thanked Poland for providing it with Krab howitzers, noting the first batch had become “a nightmare for the [Russian] occupiers in the hands of skilled [Ukrainian] artillerymen.”

BY MICHAEL LEE [lee.junhyuk@joongang.co.kr]