Artillery vehicle

Lockheed joins Hanwha team for British artillery competition

LONDON – Hanwha Defense has recruited Lockheed Martin UK as part of its team bidding on a key British Army artillery programme.

The South Korean defense contractor announced on March 21 that Lockheed had become the latest industry member to join Team Thunder, with the group bidding for an £800 million (US$1 billion) deal to supply 155 mm self-propelled howitzers to the army.

Hanwha offers its K9A2 howitzer to the British effort likely to attract competition from several rivals. French, German and Swedish systems are expected to join the UK Mobile Fires platform requirement when the competition officially launches. The MoD has said it wants to roll out a new 155mm capability by 2029.

Responding to questions about the program in Parliament on February 25, Defense Procurement Minister Jeremy Quin said the program was still in its design phase.

“Around £166,000 has been spent on the Mobile Fires Platform project between February 2021 and January 2022. As the project is still in the design phase, the remainder of the £800m provisioned has yet to be committed to future projects. “, did he declare.

“Together with the expertise of other Team Thunder partners, our advanced systems, specialized engineering and digital production facilities will provide the modern capabilities needed to domestically manufacture, field and support the K9A2,” said Lee Fellows, Vice President and Managing Director of the Ampthill-based Lockheed Martin UK business.

Britain is looking to update its 155mm artillery capability as it currently relies on the aging AS90. Analysts say the country is outstripped in quantity and quality compared to Russia.

Industry executives say the Department of Defense is watching what’s happening across the Atlantic, where the US military is reviewing its own requirements for wheeled self-propelled howitzers before deciding what it will ultimately need.

The K9A2 is not part of U.S. Army evaluation, but variants of the system are part of export agreements with several countries, including Poland, Estonia, Norway, Egypt, and the United States. Australia.

Lockheed joins an industry team that already includes Pearson Engineering, Horstman Defense Systems, Leonardo and Soucy Defense. Hanwha said he offered to manufacture the tracked K9A2 in Britain and create hundreds of new jobs in the country if he got the deal.

The British branch of Lockheed has a major facility at Ampthill, near London, where it has invested substantial sums to design and build turrets for armored vehicles. But the company’s ambition to be a key player in Britain’s armored fighting vehicle industry was badly shaken by the army’s decision last year to end its upgrade program. Warrior infantry fighting vehicle. Lockheed was the prime contractor for this program.

Lockheed currently supplies turrets for the Ajax reconnaissance platform built by General Dynamics UK for the British Army. This program could also be in jeopardy, as lawmakers have repeatedly called for the program to be halted due to technical shortcomings.

Andrew Chuter is the UK correspondent for Defense News.