In a groundbreaking display of military prowess, the Australian Army recently conducted a successful test firing of the AS9 Huntsman self-propelled howitzer. This significant event took place at the Proof & Experimental Establishment in Port Wakefield, marking a crucial step in the development of the LAND 8116 project.
Overview of AS9 Huntsman and LAND 8116 Project
The AS9 Huntsman, an Australian adaptation of the South Korean K9 self-propelled howitzer, underwent rigorous testing overseen by the Joint Proof and Experimental Unit. This demonstration, part of the LAND 8116 project, showcased the cutting-edge capabilities of the Huntsman to project stakeholders.
Collaboration and Blast Tests
Defense vehicle armor producer Plasan of Israel, in collaboration with Hanwha Defense Australia and Hanwha Aerospace from the Republic of Korea, successfully completed blast tests on the AS10 vehicle. This is a pivotal component of Phase 1 of the LAND 8116 Protected Mobile Fires (PMF) program, ensuring the highest quality survivability systems for the Australian Army.
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Modifications and Improvements
The AS9 Huntsman is based on the K9 VIDAR variants developed for Norway, with specific modifications tailored to Australian requirements. Notably, it boasts additional armor and improved suspension, enhancing its overall performance and survivability. This adaptation ensures that the Huntsman meets the unique demands of the Australian Army.
Local Production and Ministerial Announcement
In a strategic move towards self-reliance, Minister for Defense Linda Reynolds announced a request for tender in September 2020. The plan involves the local construction of 30 K9s under the Land 8116 Phase 1 Protected Mobility Fires requirement. The preferred supplier, Hanwha Defense Australia, will build and maintain these vehicles, including 15 K10s and their supporting systems, at their Geelong facility.
The Australian Army is set to receive two AS9s, modeled after the South Korean K9 Thunder self-propelled howitzer, and an AS10 ammunition resupply vehicle imported from South Korea. This initial deployment underscores the nation’s commitment to strengthening its defense capabilities through advanced military technology.
As the AS9 Huntsman advances through critical testing phases, it stands as a testament to Australia’s dedication to modernizing its defense capabilities. The successful collaboration between international partners and the local production initiative exemplify the nation’s strategic vision for a robust and self-sufficient defense infrastructure under the LAND 8116 project.