Lockheed Martin UK has signed a teaming agreement to join ‘Team Thunder’ led by Hanwha Defense. The team will build an advanced variant of the K9 Self-Propelled Howitzer for the Royal Artillery, as part of the Mobile Fires Platform (MFP) program for the U.K. Ministry of Defense (MoD).
Team Thunder, which also includes Pearson Engineering, Horstman Defence Systems, Leonardo UK, and Soucy Defense of the Soucy Group, plans to locally manufacture the K9A2, creating hundreds of new highly-skilled jobs across the U.K. supply chain. The advanced version will be an upgrade of the existing 155mm/52-caliber K9A1 Self-Propelled Howitzer, featuring improved lethality, mobility and survivability.
Unlike wheeled vehicles, the K9 tracked Howitzer can effectively operate in difficult terrains, including off-road, deserts, snow, and other challenging environments.
“We’re delighted to be working with Lockheed Martin UK as part of Team Thunder. Globally, Lockheed Martin is the world’s biggest aerospace, space and defense company. As part of its U.K. operations, the company’s Ampthill site in Bedfordshire is home to the country’s most advanced digital manufacturing facility in the defense sector,” said Executive Vice President Mr. Kim Dae-young, Head of Hanwha Defense’s Overseas Business Center. “I’m sure Team Thunder will be a key pillar of Hanwha Defense’s bid for the MFP program.”
“With operations in the U.K. for over 80 years, Lockheed Martin has a proud track record of supporting the U.K. economy, and today our business employs thousands of people across 23 U.K. locations,” said Lee Fellows, Vice President and Managing Director for Lockheed Martin UK’s Ampthill business. “Along with other Team Thunder partner expertise, our advanced systems, specialty engineering, and digitally-enabled production facility will provide the modern capabilities needed to manufacture in-country, bring into service and support the K9A2.”
The K9 system is already in service with seven countries, including NATO members such as Poland, Norway and Estonia. Australia and Egypt have also signed deals to acquire the K9 howitzer, expanding the membership of the K9 User Community to nine countries.