Prior to the arrival of the K9 "Thunder" Self-Propelled Gun (SPG), the South Korean Army relied on the K55 series of similar form and function. The K55 was a localized development of the US military's M109A2 Paladin SPG family, license-produced by Samsung Techwin / Samsung Aerospace Industries (SSA). Over 1,100 (1,180) of the type were procured by the South Korean government, supplying the Army with a long range, heavy hitter capable of lobbing conventional, chemical and nuclear shells at any potential enemies - namely North Korea. The K55 entered service in 1985.
The 25-ton K55 borrows much from the American M109 including its conventional design consisting of an armored tracked chassis and boxy turret superstructure. The vehicle is crewed by six personnel and primary armament is a 155mm main gun of 30 caliber length. Defense is through 1 x 12.7mm K6 heavy machine gun. Power is served through a Detroit Diesel 8V-71T turbocharged, diesel-fueled engine of 450 horsepower. Maximum road speed across ideal surfaces is 56 kmh. The main gun can supply a rate-of-fire of 4 shots per minute while targeting is through manual means. A full ammunition load aboard the K55 is 36 projectiles.
The K55 entered a modernization program in 1994, producing the K55A1 designation.
The newer 47-ton K9 Thunder formally entered service in 1999 and is crewed by five personnel, carried 48 projectiles and features a rate-of-fire of 6 shots per minute with manual or automatic targeting. Additionally, the powerplant provides road speeds of up to 66 kph.
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