South Korea mulls Redback IFV acquisition

The Republic of Korea Army (RoKA) has completed a six-week trial of Hanwha Defense’s Redback infantry fighting vehicle (IFV) to support ongoing efforts to market the platform internationally.

The Redback IFV is a finalist in the Australian Army’s Land 400 Phase 3 programme alongside Rheinmetall Defence Australia’s KF41 Lynx, which seeks around 400 next-generation IFVs and 17 manoeuvre support vehicles at a potential acquisition cost of A$27 billion. It is also being positioned to compete in US and European IFV programmes.

Hanwha Defense announced on 29 May that the vehicle demonstrated its high-performance manoeuvrability in cross country terrain during a media event two days before to mark the end of the RoKA’s trials.

The Redback IFV is derived from the company’s successful K21 platform – which is in service with the RoKA – and designed to meet the operational requirements of the Australian Army. The company also 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. Other features include composite rubber tracks, Iron Vision helmet mounted display, Iron Fist hard-kill active protection system, as well as in-arm type hydro-pneumatic suspension and Solar Sigma Shield technology.

“The reliability and sophisticated technology of the Redback IFV has been proved during the latest [RoKA] trial run of the vehicle, which is expected to be a strong basis for the Redback’s international sales and marketing,” said Brigadier General Cho Hyun-ki, head of the Defense Acquisition Program Administration’s (DAPA’s) Manoeuvre Programme Department.

DAPA also floated the prospects of acquiring a localised version of the Redback, although it would have to be further developed to address the RoKA’s unique operational requirements.

“Domestically, we consider acquiring a Korean version of the Redback meeting the [RoKA’s] operational concept and capable of featuring technology and performance required by the service, under a fast-track research and development programme,” Brigadier Cho added. “With this approach, the ROK Army will be able to deploy next-generation IFVs earlier than schedule, which will contribute to improving the service’s capability to deploy and sustain armed forces.”

Hanwha Defense asserted that it is on track to meet local requirements with intensive testing on Korean terrain planned from August onwards, which would entail around 10,000 kilometres of driving on challenging terrain as well as on paved and unpaved roads.

by Jr Ng