World’s Most Popular Howitzer, Turkey’s T-155 Firtina Aka K-9 Thunder Could Soon Be Headed To Ukraine?

Ahead of Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan’s planned visit to the US later this week, there is widespread speculation that the T-155 Firtina self-propelled howitzers, modeled on the formidable South Korean K-9 Thunders, could make their way to Ukraine.

Reports claim that the United States is considering buying 12 T-155 Firtina self-propelled howitzers and 155 mm caliber artillery shells from Turkey for transfer to Ukraine. The reports first appeared on social media late last month and have surfaced again as Erdogan is expected to visit the US this week.

Earlier this year, the US reportedly purchased 1,16,000 rounds of 155mm artillery rounds from the Turkish company Arca Defense.

Two months later, the US was reported to be in talks with Turkey to enhance its procurement of the Turkish trinitrotoluene (TNT) and nitroguanidine, which would be “crucial” to producing NATO-standard 155 mm shells – perhaps, even triple the production.

Ukraine has reportedly been in talks with Turkey for a transfer of T-155 Firtina for almost a year. Ukrainian Brigadier General Oleksiy Hromo announced in July 2023 that it was anticipating the delivery of Firtina artillery systems and the Swedish Archer self-propelled howitzers.

While the Archers have been supplied to Kyiv, delivery of the Turkish howitzer has not been reported. Now, as the proposed visit of the Turkish President draws near, there is speculation that Ankara is considering sending weapons to Ukraine with Pentagon funding.

While it is not known if Erdogan’s US visit will take place this week, the issue of a T-155 transfer has been on the cards for a while, with Ankara previously arming Kyiv’s forces with its cutting-edge TB2 drones and the T-122 Sakarya MLRS artillery systems.

The transfer of T-155 to Ukraine would provide the beleaguered country with deadly firepower capabilities. This Turkish howitzer is based on the highly regarded South Korean K-9 Thunder. The South Korean howitzer is very popular worldwide because of its cutting-edge features and compatibility with NATO-standard artillery.

The K-9 has become the hot favorite howitzer for the European region. Ukraine’s neighbor Poland, for instance, signed a “framework agreement” in July 2022 to buy 672 K9 howitzers in two different versions.

Then, in December 2023, Reuters said Poland inked a $2.6 billion deal to buy more than 150 more South Korean self-propelled howitzers. In a more recent development, Poland will acquire another six self-propelled K9 howitzers in 2025 and 146 self-propelled howitzers of the K9PL version in 2026-2027.

K9 Thunder - Wikipedia
K9 Thunder – Wikipedia

The system has been purchased by other European countries like Finland, Estonia, and Norway; Australia in the Pacific; Egypt in the Middle East; and India in South Asia. Countries like Romania and Vietnam are currently considering a possible acquisition.

With over 2,000 in service worldwide, the 155mm 52-caliber K9 Thunder self-propelled (SP) artillery system has become the best-selling howitzer artillery system globally.

Ukraine finally getting the T-155, aka K-9 Thunder, would bolster its capability when Russia is pushing hard inside the country and constantly testing Ukrainian defenses.

What Do We Know About T-155?

Though not a licensed replica, the 155 mm T155 Firtina self-propelled artillery system is modeled on the South Korean K-9 Thunder. The system is an upgraded K9 variant and includes a locally-built turret and a host of electronic systems.

The T-155 has several K-9 features, including the CN98 155 mm barrel and chassis, which were made possible by the Agency for Defense Development (ADD – the South Korean government agency for research and development in defense technology) technology transfer from South Korea.

The turret, however, is an original Turkish design that has increased magazine capacity from 24 to 30 while reducing hull ammunition storage from 24 to 18.

While the panoramic scope — used for manual firing — has been removed, the auxiliary power unit (APU) has been added. Turkey developed the chassis components, the INS (inertial navigation system), and electrical systems, including the radio and FCS (fire control system). The company behind the Inertial Navigation technology was ASELSAN.

The 155 mm cannon of the Turkish T155 Firtina self-propelled howitzer has a barrel length of 52 calibers. It can fire MOD 274 HE projectiles up to a maximum range of 40 kilometers.


The system can fire six projectiles per minute, with an option of firing three rounds in 15 seconds. The self-propelled howitzer carries 48 rounds of ammunition, and reports indicate that it can reach a top speed of 65 kilometers/hour.

Turkey bought the production license for this system from South Korea in 2021, following which eight T155 Firtina self-propelled howitzers were delivered to its army in 2004. The Turkish army has about 300 (or more) T155 Firtina self-propelled howitzers. Turkey has used the system in combat and continues to deploy at least a few of these units along its border with Syria.

These howitzers were initially sent to battle the PKK Kurdish group in northern Iraq as part of Operation Sun for Turkey at the end of 2007. Additionally, it was employed in the 2016 Operation Euphrates Shield and the 2018 Operation Olive Branch.

According to sources who spoke with the state-run news agency, Anadolu Agency, Turkish forces have destroyed three PKK/YPG (YPG International or People’s Protection Units International military unit made up of foreign fighters in the Syrian Democratic Forces) command buildings, a bunker, and a location utilized by the armed group in 2021 using Firtina howitzers.