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K9 Thunder 155mm Self-Propelled Howitzer, South Korea

The K9 Thunder is a 155mm / 52 calibre self-propelled howitzer developed by Samsung Techwin for the Republic of Korea Armed Forces. The howitzer is designed to provide effective and deep fire support in all kinds of theatres. Built on high mobility platform, the K9 delivers a high rate of fire at long range.

The K9 Thunder development program began in 1989. The first prototype was rolled out and tested in 1996. The design phase was completed in 1998 and serial production began in 1999. It is one of the main contenders for the Land 17 Artillery Replacement Project of the Australian Army.

K9 self-propelled howitzer design

The K9 Thunder platform is made of all-welded steel armour protection material. The design incorporates a Modular Azimuth Position System (MAPS), an automatic fire-control system (AFCS), a powered gun elevation / depression and a turret traverse system. The hydro-pneumatic suspension system provides high-ground clearance and mobility across different terrains.


US M109, South Korea K55A1 & K9 Thunder Howitzers Live-Fire

K9 Thunder orders and deliveries

The South Korean Government awarded a contract to Samsung Aerospace Industries (SSA) for the K9 Thunder in December 1998. The first batch of K9 were delivered to the Republic of Korea Army in 1999.

Turkish Firtina or T-155 K/M Obus Image

In late 2001, Turkish Land Forces Command (TLFC) signed a contract with Samsung TechWin for K9 Thunder. The Turkish variant was designated Firtina or T-155 K/M Obus. Turkey received its first batch of eight Firtina howitzers in 2004. A total of 150 units were delivered to the Turkish Army in December 2009.

K9 howitzer system

The main weapon is the 155mm / 52 calibre gun. It has a burst rate of fire of three rounds per 15 seconds and a maximum rate of fire of six to eight rounds a minute for three minutes.

Sustained rate of fire is two to three rounds a minute for one hour. The K9 Thunder is designed to meet the up-to-date tactical concept on shoot and scoot.

The gun can fire a standard M107 high-explosive (HE) projectile for a maximum range of 18km.

K9 interior @primeportal.netK9 interior @primeportal.netK-9 155mm SPH_27K9 interior


The M107 is a conventional, hollow forged steel projectile filled with TNT high-explosive. A TNT supplemental charge may be fitted to projectiles loaded with a deep intrusion fuze cavity and is removable for assembling proximity fuzes such as the M514, M728 and M783 to the projectile. The 155mm Projectile HE M107 is compatible with the most 155mm howitzers, using cannons, M1A1, M126/ M126A1, M284, M185 and M199. The M107 155mm projectile is the US Army and US Marine Corps’ standard high explosive (HE) projectile for howitzers. It is a bursting round with fragmentation and blast effects. Source

Maximum range firing the HE rocket assisted projectile (RAP) with uni-charge of five zones, is 30km. It can also fire a K307 projectile with a modular-charge of six zones for a maximum range of over 40km.

Base Bleed HE, already deployed in the field, is a 155mm long-range high explosive developed by Poongsan with its up-to-date design and precision forging technology. 


 in service and production

Technical Data Specification

Weight(kg)                        46.4

Length(mm)                      945 (W/ Fuse)

Filler                                  TNT

Fuse                                  PD K519

Primer Percussion             M82

Chamber Pressure (psi)    53,800 Max.

Muzzle Velocity (mps)       928 

Maximum Range (m)

K9             41,000 (K676)


Fire control

The gun’s firing is controlled by onboard fire-control equipment. The information can be transmitted through a data digital radio link or voice communications. The automatic loading system places the projectiles onto the ammunition tray ready for fire. The K9 Thunder can open fire within 30 seconds at stand out position or within 60 seconds during movement.

K9 Thunder Samsung Techwin – K-9자주포 급속사격시연

MVRS-3000 system

Muzzle Velocity Radar System

The MVRS-3000 system measures and manages a wide variety of ammunition to improve probability of first round hit for Field Artillery, Naval, Mortars and Anti-aircraft applications.

Muzzle Velocity Radar System (MVRS-3000)


  • Measures muzzle velocity from 2 m/s to 3,000 m/s with 99.95% accuracy
  • No miscalculation of muzzle velocity even during the simultaneous shooting of multiple artilleries
  • Stores up to 3,000 results in the non-volatile memory
  • Event logging function included
  • Capable of measuring multiple shots in rapid succession(optional)
  • MIL-STD-810E, MIL-STD-461D, MIL-HDBK-217Plus specifications satisfied

Muzzle Velocity Radar System

MVRS(Muzzle Velocity Radar System) is a critical component of Automatic Fire Control System providing the muzzle velocity data necessary for finding the optimal gun shooting to increase the possibility to hit the target area.

Applied Fields

– Radar/control/wired and wireless communication systems: Demand applied design
• Data analyzer
• Analyzes Doppler signals and outside signals to calculate firing speed
• Display : Design/offer software for control and status display
• Operation equipment : Design radar/control/wired and wireless communication system operation software


  • – Ethernet Communication: 10/100/1000 Mbps
  • – Series Communication: RS422/232
  • – CPLD applied: Easy to change and add functions
  • – System control through sensor signal detection and analysis
  • – Temperature/humidity, voltage/current, acceleration and sound pressure sensor


Artillery Fire Control System (Example)


The K9 Thunder’s welded steel construction protects crew and on-board equipment against the 155mm shell fragments, 14.5mm armour piercing shells and anti-personnel mines. The air purification system and on-board crew gas masks are provided for NBC warfare.

K10 ammunition re-supply vehicle (ARV)

The K9 Thunder is supplemented by a K10 automatic ammunition re-supply vehicle (ARV) built on the K9 platform.

K10 loading ammo onto K9 Image

The K10 is a fully tracked vehicle that follows the main artillery battery. The K10 ARV can automatically transfer 12 rounds per minute through a conveyor belt.

K9_howitzer_21106AIK9 @defensetalk.comK-9 155mm SPH_41K-9 rear hatch for loading ammo Image

This avoids the exposure of crew to the combat environment. Each K10 supports two K9 guns and can carry 104 rounds of ammunition.


K9 engine

The K9 Thunder is powered by an MTU MT 881 Ka-500 8-cylinder water cooled diesel engine coupled to the Allison ATDX1100-5A3 transmission. The engine develops a power output of 1,000hp with a power-to-weight ratio of 21.6hp/t. The propulsion system provides a top speed of over 67km/h and a cruising range of 360km.

MT 881 KA-500

Engine model   MT 881 Ka-500
Rated power max.   kW (bhp)   735 ()
Speed max.   rpm   2700
Dimensions and masses
Length (L)   mm (in)   1108 (43,6)
Width(W)   mm (in)   972 (38,3)
Height (H)   mm (in)   742 (29,2)
Mass (dry)   kg (lbs)   1400 (3086)
Engine main data
Bore/Stroke   mm (in)   144/140 (5,7/5,5)
Cylinder displacement   l   2,28
Displacement, total   l (cu in)   18,2 (1111)


Allison ATDX1100-5A3 transmission

The original X1100 transmission was developed by Allison Transmission in the 1970s and went into production in 1979 as the X1100-3B. This configuration was for application with the Textron Lycoming AGT-1500 gas turbine, as installed in the General Dynamics Land Systems M1/M1A1 and M1A2 Abrams MBTs.

The X1100 centre section was designed so that it could be adapted for other engines such as gas turbines, rotary or diesel of comparable power ratings. This is done by using different input modules that are compatible with the particular engine and vehicle installation requirements. The X1100-5 was developed for application with the General Dynamics Land Systems AVDS-1790 diesel engine. Concepts for the following vehicle applications have been made: M48A5, M60, AVLB (M60/M48 chassis), M728 CEV, M88 and Challenger. The M88 and Challenger require an input gearbox. Currently, an M60 AVLB demonstrator is running.

As the US Army has now placed a low rate initial production order for the M1 Wolverine Heavy Assault Bridge (HAB) it is considered improbable that the US Army will order the enhanced M60 AVLB which is known as the Razorback. Source

K9 Thunder auxiliary generator control panel

K9 Thunder auxiliary generator control panel

K9 Thunder self-propelled artillery auxiliary generator operation panel controls the output voltage of the auxiliary generator and controls currents during overloads to control the generator so that the battery power can also be supplied to the main unit. It carries out generator control and protection functions and allows the operator to check the generator activation status and operation.

Applied Fields

– Generator protection and control control/status monitoring
• Stop engine when engine oil pressure is low
• Protect output restriction when engine overheats
• Protects static current output restriction when detecting overload on generators
• Supply power sharing with battery in generator vehicle
• Protects excessive activation of ignition
• Check engine operation information
• Engine’s main warning lamp redundancy composition


  • – Ethernet Communication: 10/100/1000 Mbps
  • – CAN Communication: 500kbps
  • – Series Communication: RS422/232
  • – Operator information indication function design
  • – Circuit design reduces electromagnetic waves
  • – Temperature adapting indicator design
  • – System inspection and operation module software design
  • – Motor control: PWM, PID method applied



T-155 Firtina Turkish howitzer variant

T-155 Firtina is the Turkish variant of K9 Thunder. The major equipment including gun system, automatic ammunition feeding system and diesel engine were retained for the T-155.

The Turkish variant incorporates considerable changes in turret design, chassis, navigation system and electronic systems.


The first batch of eight T-155s were built in South Korea under a licence agreement with Samsung Techwin, while the remaining batch of over 300 units is being produced at the 1st Army Maintenance Center Command, Adapazari in Turkey.

Main material source


Map with K9 operators in blue
Map with K9 operators in blue

Current operators

 Republic of Korea

A total of 1,136 K9 and 179 K10 will be produced.


A total of 120 K9 chassis will be produced and to be integrated with AHS Krab system.

See details of Polish AHS KRAB: HERE

Polish AHS Krab

A total of 350 T-155 Fırtına will be produced.


A total of 100 will be produced by L&T for the Indian Army.

Potential operators


The K9 Thunder is being considered to replace Denmark’s M109A3 howitzers

Entered service 1999
Crew 5 men
Dimensions and weight
Weight 47 t
Length (gun forward) 12 m
Hull length ?
Width 3.4 m
Height 2.73 m
Main gun 155-mm
Barrel length 52 calibers
Machine guns 1 x 7.62-mm
Muzzle velocity ?
Projectile weight ?
Maximum firing range 30 – 40 km
Maximum rate of fire 6 rpm
Elevation range – 2.5 to + 70 degrees
Traverse range 360 degrees
Ammunition load
Main gun 48 rounds
Machine guns ?
Engine MTU MT 881 Ka-500 diesel
Engine power 1 000 hp
Maximum road speed 66 km/h
Range 480 km
Gradient 60%
Side slope 30%
Vertical step 0.75 m
Trench 2.8 m
Fording 1.5 m


Updated Oct 20, 2016

Comparison chart

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