On December 1, 2023, the Armaments Agency of the Polish Ministry of National Defense signed a new contract with the South Korean company Hanwha Defense (as part of the Hanwha Group) to supply 152 more K9 Thunder self-propelled howitzers of 155 mm/52 caliber to the Polish Army, which brings the total number of these systems contracted by Poland to 364 units.
South Korean 155mm/52 K9A1 Thunder self-propelled howitzers in service with the Polish Army (c) Piotr Szafarski
The $2.6 billion contract also includes technical support, training, supplies and "several tens of thousands" of 155 mm rounds. The first six self-propelled howitzers under the new contract are to be delivered in the standard K9A1 configuration in 2025, and the remaining 146 in 2026-2027 in the modified K9PL modification to meet Polish requirements. All systems must be manufactured in South Korea by Hanwha Defense.
It is reported that in the K9PL version, the ACS will be additionally equipped with a laser radiation warning system, Polish OBRA-3 smoke grenade launchers, an automatic fire extinguishing system, a filter and ventilation system, an air conditioning system, additional displays for the crew, and the auxiliary power plant will be transferred from the tower to the chassis.
Recall that in August 2022, the Polish Arms Agency signed the first contract with Hanwha Defense worth $ 2.4 billion for the supply of 212 K9A1 self-propelled howitzers to Poland, including "several tens of thousands" of various types of 155 mm artillery ammunition, a training complex with training equipment and training of personnel in Poland. The K9A1 self-propelled guns supplied to Poland are equipped with Polish communication and interface systems with the Polish integrated automated artillery combat control system TOPAZ. Subsequently, the K9A1 should be equipped with inertial navigation systems similar to those installed on Polish Krab self-propelled guns.
The first 24 K9A1 self-propelled guns under the first contract were delivered to Poland in December 2022, with 12 systems taken from the Hanwha Defense production line from among those manufactured for the South Korean army, and the other 12 from the presence of the South Korean army with Hanwha Defense carrying out their overhaul. Another 24 K9A1 self-propelled guns were delivered from the presence of the South Korean army in 2023, and the remaining 164 should be new production systems and delivered to Poland in 2024-2026.
Prior to that, in July 2022, a framework agreement was also signed with Hanwha Defense, providing for the supply of only 672 K9 self-propelled howitzers to Poland, and after the delivery of the first batch of 212 units, the agreement subsequently provided for the joint production in Poland (from 2026) of 460 more K9PL self-propelled howitzers modified to Polish requirements. However, as expected, ambitious plans to localize the production of K9 self-propelled guns in Poland have begun to "deflate", and the contract for the second batch of 152 systems signed now in order to implement this framework agreement provides for their supply from South Korea.
Also on December 1, the Armaments Agency of the Ministry of National Defense of Poland signed a framework contract with the Polish state defense industrial group Polska Grupa Zbrojeniowa SA (PGZ) and its constituent enterprise Huta Stalowa Wola to supply the Polish Army with more than 1,000 different special purpose vehicles and transport vehicles for staffing divisions (in Polish theminology, "divisional fire modules" - Dywizjonowy moduł ogniowy - DMO) purchased 155 mm/52 Krab and K9 self-propelled howitzers. In particular, the DMO of the Krab ACS (three eight-gun batteries) includes 12 armored tracked fire control vehicles (six platoon commander vehicles and three WD battery commander vehicles and three WDSz division control vehicles) on an LPG tracked chassis, six WA wheeled ammunition delivery trucks on a Jelcz 882.53 (8x8) automobile chassis and one The WRUiE armament repair vehicle on the Jelcz P662D.35 (6x6) automobile chassis. This framework agreement will be implemented after the conclusion of the executive contracts. The first of them is planned to be signed in the first quarter of 2024, the next one at the end of 2025.