The AS9 images show the vehicles, which appear to be almost identical to the K9 Thunder SPH and K10 AARV they are based on, in Australian Defence Force (ADF) camouflage, although no details were provided by the company about the Australia-specific modifications.
That said, the AS9 SPH was shown fitted with a remote weapon station (RWS) mounting what appears to be a 12.7 mm heavy machine gun (HMG). The K9 Thunder is normally fitted with a manually operated 12.7 HMG. Moreover, it seems the AS9 features additional armour.
On 8 October, Australia issued a request for tender to HDA – a wholly owned subsidiary of South Korea’s Hanwha Group – to build and maintain the vehicles and their supporting systems and progress the AA’s Protected Mobile Fires programme under Project Land 8116 Phase 1.
More than a month earlier, on 3 September, Australian Minister of Defence Linda Reynolds had announced that the future SPHs and AARVs are expected to be produced and maintained at Geelong near Melbourne, creating up to 350 jobs to deliver “this critical capability” to the ADF.
According to Australia’s 2020 Force Structure Plan, which was released in July, the cost of the initial phase of the project is estimated at between $658–$950 million.
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