South Korea’s company Hanwha Group and Norway’s Kongsberg Defense and Aerospace signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to cooperate in infantry fighting vehicles and long-range precision firing systems during the Eurosatory 2022 exhibition in Paris, France, June 14. The MoU was signed by Hanwha’s three defense business subsidiaries: Hanwha Defense, Hanwha Defense Australia (HDA) and Hanwha Corp. and Kongsberg Defense and Aerospace, Norway’s major supplier of defense and aerospace-related systems and solutions. The Norwegian Defense Material Agency has issued a request for information (RFI) for additional infantry fighting vehicle (IFVs). An RFI for long-range precision firing systems (LRPFS) will be issued later this year. The MoU includes a means for collaborating on LRPFS between Hanwha Corp., a leading precision-guided weapons developer in South Korea, and Kongsberg Defense & Aerospace.
Hanwha Defense has a proven track record of developing and delivering advanced IFVs such as the K21 in service with the Korean Army, and the Redback vying for the $18-27 billion project of the LAND 400 Phase 3 for the Australian Defense Force (ADF). The K21 is a South Korean infantry fighting vehicle. A replacement for the K200-series, it was formerly designated as K300 or XK21 KNIFV (Korea Next-generation Infantry Fighting Vehicle). The initial production began in 2009, with the Republic of Korea Army planning to field approximately 466 units. It is designed to effectively defeat other IFVs as heavily armed and armored as the BMP-3. The ROK MoD announced plans for the development of the “K31” which is to be an improved version of the current K21. Official plans include reduction of the vehicle to 20 tons to enable airlift capabilities as well as a better integrated and improved interior for the crew. Advancements in firepower, mobility, and on-board technology are still yet to be confirmed.
Hanwha Defense have proposed a development of the K21 known as the AS21 Redback, equipped with a 30mm caliber automatic cannon for the Australian Army’s LAND 400 Phase 3 IFV competition. In 2021, prototype AS21s were delivered to the Australian Army for testing purposes. Participating in the risk mitigation activity operated by the ADF in 2021, the Redback successfully demonstrated its lethality, mobility and survivability, featuring its innovative technologies, including the Iron Fist hard-kill active protection system, the Iron Vision “see-through” helmet-mounted display and composite rubber tracks among others. The Redback also showcased its all-terrain maneuverability during the Korean Army’s test trials from April to May, raising the possibility of the service’s operation of the armored infantry vehicles. Oshkosh Defense is developing a version of the Redback as its entry under a competitive contract for the U.S. Army Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle program.
Hanwha Corporation is a global manufacturing and trading company that has directly contributed to the growth of South Korea’s economy. There are three divisions under the Hanwha Corporation: Global, Defense, and Machinery. Hanwha Corporation was founded in 1952 as Korea Explosives company, quickly becoming the leader in explosives industry of South Korea. Kongsberg Gruppen is an international technology group headquartered in Norway, that supplies high-technology systems to customers in the merchant marine, defence, aerospace, offshore oil and gas industries, and renewable and utilities industries. Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace (KDA) is one of three business units of Kongsberg Gruppen (KOG) of Norway and the supplier of defence and space related systems and products, mainly anti-ship missiles, military communications, and command and weapons control systems for naval vessels and air-defence applications. With regard to Australian army 155 mm self-propelled howitzer (SPH) specifically, Hanwha announced back in November 2020 that it has selected Kongsberg Defence Australia to be its C4I partner on the program. Kongsberg already provides the digital architecture systems for Hanwha’s K9.