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DSEI 2021: Hanwha eyes larger share of European market

9th September 2021 - 02:00 GMT | by Samuel Beal in London

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K9 Thunder self-propelled howitzer. (Photo: Hanwha Defense)

Hanwha Defense of South Korea has an eye on the future Mobile Fires Platform for the British Army as it prepares to exhibit at DSEI 2021.

Hanwha Defense is angling for a role in the Mobile Fires Platform (MFP) programme which was highlighted in the UK MoD Command Paper earlier this year, company executives told Shephard in an exclusive interview before DSEI 2021.

‘We would like to meet some local industrial potential partners to make a bid together with UK industry. That is one of the main objectives [at the show],’ said Pasi Pasivirta, European business development director for the South Korean company.

In the Command Paper, the MoD pledged investment of more than £800 million ($1.1 billion) over the next ten years on an automated MFP ‘that will deliver enhanced close support artillery systems and greater operational mobility’.

Asked about concerns in the UK surrounding sovereign industrial capabilities and the localisation of defence production, Pasivirta remained sanguine.

‘We understand concerns over the security of supply coming from another continent 7,000 miles away — but we have a very successful track record for localising production,’ he claimed. 

Wi Sun, MFP programme director at Hanwha, argued that active production lines for Hanwha’s self-propelled howitzers (SPHs) in Australia and India should ease concerns over any localisation fears the UK government might have, adding: ‘We are quite confident to meet the requirements for localisation and cooperation with industry.’

Pasivirta noted that the South Korean government already demands very high-end requirements, which he claimed puts Hanwha in good stead to offer the best quality for the MoD’s exacting MFP requirements. 

On display at DSEI will be Hanwha’s new modular charging system, as well as its flagship K9 Thunder 155mm SPH, K10 ammunition resupply vehicle and ground-based air defence systems.

The company hopes to build on its experience in the European defence market. Pasivirta highlighted ‘quite successful’ sales of the K9 (or local variants) in recent years to Estonia, Finland, Norway, Poland and Turkey.

Discussions are also ongoing with other countries in Europe on supplying wheeled armoured vehicles and air defence systems, as Hanwha hopes to create a positive feedback loop.

‘The more markets you acquire, the more known you become, people know who you are and you become a more trusted partner,’ Pasivirta noted.

Both of the Hanwha executives stressed how the company sets out to tailor its products to individual customer requirements. Pasivirta explained that ‘you have to take the whole picture — many nations have different ways of operating artillery, and you need to find solutions in their operational framework’.

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