Will South Korean tanks prevail in European armies?

Following in-depth consultation with France and the Nexter group, the Danish authorities announced on January 19 that they would transfer their entire fleet of CAESAR motorized guns, i.e. 19 8x8 systems heavier and better armored than the in service within the Army as well as in Ukraine, in order to reinforce the defensive capacities of Kyiv. This announcement, rightly welcomed by the Ukrainian armies, given the performance of the system, is part of an unprecedented dynamic of European countries to support their ally, Sweden having promised 50 CV90 infantry combat vehicles and an unknown number of Archer artillery systems (comparable to the CAESAR), Great Britain Challenger 2 heavy tanks and AS90 tracked self-propelled guns, and Poland having promised Kyiv a platoon of Leopard 2 tanks, as did Finland, these announcements being for the time being suspended from the authorization of Berlin.

The announcement made by Copenhagen, however, was accompanied by a clarification. Indeed, to replace its 19 Caesar guns which themselves replaced the M109 self-propelled guns within the Danish armed forces, they will use a replacement solution that can be activated quickly. However, to date, there are very few solutions of this type in Europe: The French Caesar whose order book is already full, the German Pzh2000, produced on the same lines as those which assemble the Puma and which modernize the Leopard 2 of the Bundeswehr and its allies, also under tension, and the Swedish Archer, which to date has hardly convinced by its performance. As for the American M109, it remains equipped with a 39 caliber tube, limiting its performance and in particular its effective range, of the order of 25 km where European systems, which rely on a 52 caliber tube, reach and exceed 40 km. But there is an alternative that is both available in the relatively short term, efficient and even economical compared to equivalent systems, the South Korean K9 Thunder.

Denmark has announced that it will transfer its 19 Caesar 8x8s to Ukraine, and that it will seek a short-term workaround to replenish its artillery

Armed with a 155mm 52 caliber self-loading tube, the K9 hardly has to envy its most efficient European counterparts, whether in terms of range, accuracy or rate of fire. In addition, it relies on a tracked chassis powered by a 1000 hp turbo-diesel engine for a combat mass of 47 tons, giving it a power-to-weight ratio of 21 hp per ton and therefore good mobility, including in any terrain. The artillery system is entirely under armored casemate, effectively protecting its crew of 5 servants against light ammunition and shrapnel fragments. Finally, it has an advanced tracking and pointing system, a 48-round powered semi-automatic loading system, and a set of support vehicles allowing a full magazine reload in just 4 minutes (12 shells per minute) using the K10 support vehicle, also armored and tracked, carrying 104 155 mm shells and 504 units of powder. But the two most important arguments of the K9 are neither technical nor operational.

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