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Shown above is the “Redback” infantry fighting vehicle built by Hanwha Defense. The South Korean Army plans to test the vehicles next year. Photo courtesy of Hanwha Defense

Hanwha Defense’s infantry fighting vehicle will go through trial next year

South Korea’s Army is scheduled to test the “Redback” infantry fighting vehicle (IFV) next year, according to the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA), the country’s arms procurement agency.

The state-backed organization said that it had made that decision as part of its efforts to assess the detailed capabilities of up-to-date weapons systems available for overseas sales.

Built by Hanwha Defense Australia, the Redback is a fifth-generation IFV. It was designed specifically to meet the demanding requirements of Australia’s Land 400 Phase 3 project.

The project is an $18 billion to $27 billion program tasked to acquire up to 450 IFVs in place of the Australian Army’s M113 armored personnel carriers.

The Redback was shortlisted in 2019 as one of the final two IFVs by the Australian military authority.

Three Redback vehicles were delivered to the Australian Army earlier this year to undergo Risk Mitigation Activity (RMA) trials from February to October.

The DAPA noted that next year’s trials in South Korea will be conducted by a mechanized unit of the Korean Army from April to June.

The trial sessions will include driving tests both on paved and unpaved roads, tactical field training. One of the three RMA vehicles will be handed over to the mechanized unit following Australian tests and evaluations.

The Korean Army currently operates K21 IFVs with a plan to order more, while the service is seeking to deploy next-generation IFVs meeting its operational requirements in the long term.

Observers point out that the Korean Army’s interest has been aroused by the Redback’s strong progress with systems integration, including recent successful demonstration of the Iron Fist Active Protection System and test firing of the SPIKE LR-2 Anti-Tank Guided Missile from a Redback vehicle.

Korean military personnel is expected to see first-hand the performance of Iron Vision and the composite rubber track used on the Redback.

Iron Vision effectively allows the crew to see through the vehicle’s armor by projecting the image outside the vehicle onto their helmet-mounted displays.

Redback’s rubber tracks are designed to reduce noise and vibration while offering superior ride quality for its crews and the soldiers it protects.

Hanwha Defense has ambitions for IFV programs outside Australia and is actively pursuing opportunities in the US and Europe.

“The Korean Army’s interest to the Redback and Hanwha’s global IFV ambitions could create export opportunities for Australian Industry given the importance of secondary supply chain security for South Korea,” a military analyst in Seoul said.

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