South Korean Army augments Redback export efforts

Hanwha’s AS21 Redback IFV
Hanwha’s AS21 Redback IFV

The Republic of Korea Army (RoKA) is set to commence local trials of the Hanwha Defence Australia AS21 Redback infantry fighting vehicle (IFV), the South Korean government’s Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) said in a 30 March statement.

The effort, which will be headed by the RoKA’s 11th Maneuver Division from April to May this year, is aimed at supporting the ongoing campaign to export the Redback IFV. The vehicle is a finalist in the Australian Army’s Land 400 Phase 3 programme alongside Rheinmetall Defence Australia’s KF41 Lynx, which seeks up to 450 IFVs and 17 manoeuvre support vehicles at a potential acquisition cost of A$27 billion.

Three prototype vehicles were deployed to Australia in 2021 for user risk-mitigation trials and other tests. An example returned to South Korea in March, which will be used by the RoKA to assess its field performance – including its mobility, usability, and maintainability – and share test results with its Australian counterpart.

The prototype IFV will also be used to inform South Korea’s Future Infantry Fighting Vehicle (FIFV) programme.

DAPA also noted that the Redback IFV will demonstrate its offboard health and usage management system (HUMS), which monitors and detects component faults in the early stages for preventative maintenance intervention.

The Redback is an improved version of the K21 IFV in RoKA service. According to Hanwha, the vehicle has a combat weight of 42 tons and can accommodate three crew and up to eight fully-equipped dismounts.

The company has teamed up with several local and international partners to push the Redback for the Australian programme. For example, the vehicle is being offered with the new T2000 two-person turret developed by the Canberra-based EOS Defence, which will be armed with a medium-calibre main gun and anti-tank guided missiles and integrated with a command, control, communications, computers, and intelligence (C4I) suite developed in collaboration with Israel’s Elbit Systems.

The turret can also be further enhanced with the EOS R150 or EOS R400S Mk-2-HD remote weapon stations.

by Jr Ng