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PGZ (Polska Grupa Zbrojeniowa) and Hanwha Defense have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), covering joint work on artillery (including rocket artillery systems) and armoured vehicles. It also specifies partnership for the production, servicing, life-cycle cost and future development of K9 self-propelled howitzers (SPHs). Hanwha Defense declared that it “puts the highest priority on enhancing cooperation with local industry to contribute to the modernisation of the Polish Armed Forces”.

This MoU was based on the framework agreement between South Korea and Poland signed in July 2022, which was itself the continuation of a previously established cooperationagreement. In 2014 Poland asked Hanwha Defense to deliverhulls for Poland’s domestic KRAB 155 mm programme.Under this deal the South Korean company supplied K9 hulls to Huta Stalowa Wola (HSW) which mated the hulls to the British-supplied AS90 ‘Braveheart’ turret armed with a 155 mm L52 gun. The resulting vehicle was known as ‘KRAB’. A total of 120 KRABs were ordered by the Polish Army.

Polish Modernisation

In August 2022, Poland signed a deal with Hanwha Defense for the delivery of 212 K9A1 SPHs, along with ammunition, with deliveries to take place between 2022 and 2026. Thevehicles will be equipped with Polish communication systems and WB Group’s TOPAZ ICMS (Integrated Combat Management System) which is already in use with KRAB. At the same time, Poland will establish its own production line to manufacture K9PL howitzers. The K9PL variant is intended to include elements from the presently in development K9A2 SPH, along with the use of some Polish subsystems.

Poland’s July 2022 framework agreement with Hanwha Defense covers the purchase of a total of 672 K9 family SPHs, of which early tranches will consist of K9A1 and later tranches of K9PL. Additionally, the K9A1 SPHs are planned to later be upgraded to the K9PL standard, and both partners are also expected to work jointly on the K9A3 variant planned to complete development in the 2030s.

During MSPO 2022 Hanwha Defense also presents other systems, including the K9 Ammunition Resupply Vehicle; the BIHO II modular short-range air defence system and the K21 REDBACK infantry fighting vehicle.

Further Cooperation

Apart from already ordered K9 self-propelled howitzers, Poland has already shown some interests in the K21 REDBACK vehicle, which has been offered by Hanwha Defense as a supplement to the BORSUK program. The BORSUK is an indigenously-developed IFV, and under current plans roughly 588 BORSUKs are to be procured by 2035 as a replacement for the Soviet-designed BMP-1 family. No decisions have been made yet in this regard, but it has been rumoured that while the BORSUKs would serve along the Hyundai Rotem’s K2 tanks, the heavier K21 could be deployed alongside Poland’s ABRAMS tanks. Later this year, one K21 is due to be provided to Poland for joint field trials alongside the BORSUK.

During MSPO 2022, Hanwha Defense also signed an agreement with Poland’s WB Electronics (part of the WB Group) for delivery of C2 and communications systems. The deal is estimated at €139.5M and is expected to be completed by early 2026.