Next-generation infantry fight vehicles of Korea vie to win two-way rivalry
South Korea’s Hanwha Defense rolled out prototypes of “Redback” infantry fighting vehicle (IFV), which will be shipped to Australia late this month, as part of its efforts to win a multi-billion-dollar project.
The Seoul-based company said that the two trial products will leave the country on July 28 to reach Melbourne in late August, and another one will be sent to Australian shores later this year.
The Australian military will test the three vehicles over the next year to decide the preferred bidder for its Land 400 Phase 3 project of procuring around 450 new tracked armored vehicles worth $4.6 billion.
Last September, Hanwha defeated global powerhouses from the United States and the United Kingdom to become the final candidate of the mega-sized project. Also included in the shortlist is the Lynx of Germany’s Rheinmetall.
After going through 10-month performance assessments with trial products of the two companies, the Australian government plans to decide the preferred tenderer in late 2022.
Hanwha seems to be confident of the Redback’s capability. The vehicle, which is named after an Australian venomous spider, was first disclosed last October during a defense show here.
“The development of next-generation IFVs would provide an opportunity for South Korea’s technology to lead the global defense market,” Hanwha Defense CEO Lee Sung-soo said.
“We will put forth great efforts to become the preferred bidder by proving the superiority of our land military system and development capability.”
The 42-ton Redback, which is capable of hosting a crew of 11 including eight foot soldiers, boasts of a top road speed of 65 kilometers per hour and an operational range of 500 kilometers.
The advanced armored car is equipped with a 30mm auto-cannon and the K9 self-propelled artillery’s power pack solution. They are tried-and-tested systems in South Korea, which is still technically at war with belligerent North Korea.
Also included in the Redback’s futuristic technologies are in-arm suspension unit and iron vision, a see-through-armor system that allows crew and commanders a clear 360-degree view.
Observers point out that the Hanwha Redback may be able to compete for the U.S. Army’s M2 Bradly armored vehicle replacement program, which will start early 2021.
Of note is that the U.S. Army dropped the Rheinmetall Lynx from its Bradley program last year, according to news reports.