Ground Warfare

Republic of Korea Air Force Successfully Conducts First Live Firing of K30W Sky Tiger SPAAG

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Republic of Korea Air Force Successfully Conducts First Live Firing of K30W Sky Tiger SPAAG

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Republic of Korea Air Force Successfully Conducts First Live Firing of K30W Sky Tiger SPAAG
Republic of Korea Air Force Successfully Conducts First Live Firing of K30W Sky Tiger SPAAG

On June 21, 2024, the Republic of Korea Air Force (ROKAF) achieved a significant milestone with the inaugural live firing exercise of the K30W Sky Tiger Self-Propelled Anti-Aircraft Gun (SPAAG). This event marked a pivotal moment as the 15th Special Missions Wing became the first ROKAF unit to integrate the K30W, replacing the aging KM167A3 VADS. Previously prioritized for the ROK Army and Marine Corps, the K30W enhances tactical response capabilities by seamlessly integrating with the air base air defense fire control system. This integration provides real-time early warnings of airborne threats and enables automatic tracking day and night through its advanced electro-optical tracking system (EOTS). The ROKAF aims to train operational personnel continuously, ensuring readiness for round-the-clock air defense operations. The 15th Division plans to conduct extensive practical exercises utilizing the K30W, including scenarios to counter various aerial threats, such as North Korea’s reconnaissance balloons and drones enabling swift responses in emergency situations.

The K30W Sky Tiger SPAAG is primarily built by South Korean company Hanwha Defense. The self-propelled anti-aircraft gun based on the chassis of the K200 infantry fighting vehicle, features several enhancements tailored for robust performance. Notably, it includes an additional roadwheel in its suspension system and employs a D2840L engine delivering 520 horsepower, a significant increase from its predecessor. This enhanced power capability supports the K30W’s heavier weight, while maintaining the original chassis’ protective and amphibious qualities. In 2021, a wheeled variant of the K30 Biho, known as Sky Tiger (Chunho) anti-aircraft gun wheeled vehicle system (AAGW), entered service with the Republic of Korea Army. Sky Tiger features a modified K30 turret fitted to a 8×8 K808 armored personnel carrier and will replace the aging M167 Vulcan Air Defense System (VADS). The K808/806 White Tiger (Baekho) wheeled armored personnel carrier (APC) is family of 8×8 and 6×6 armored vehicles developed by Hyundai Rotem (subsidiary of Hyundai Motor Group).

K30W Sky Tiger Self-Propelled Anti-Aircraft Gun (SPAAG)
Republic of Korea Air Force K30W Sky Tiger Self-Propelled Anti-Aircraft Gun (SPAAG)

A K30 Biho system armed with S&T Dynamics two KKCB 30×170 mm cannon turret. The cannons have a cyclic rate of fire of 600 rpm and an effective anti-aircraft range of 3,000 m (1.9 mi), and each is loaded with 300 rounds of (30x170mm KCB) ammunition. The Biho had been integrated with the KP-SAM Chiron surface-to-air missile to increase its coverage to 7 km. Two pods each containing two missiles are mounted, one of each side of the turret. The KP-SAM Chiron (Korean Portable-Surface to Air Missile; Shingung) is a South Korean shoulder-launched surface-to-air missile manufactured by LIG Nex1. The missile is superior to the American FIM-92 Stinger or the French Mistral in hit probability, price and portability. The missile made impact on a low-flying target as high as 3.5 kilometers with a speed of 697.5 m/s (more than Mach 2.36) and a distance range of 7 km. The KP-SAM Chiron features integrated IFF systems, night and adverse weather capabilities, a two-colour (IR/UV) infrared seeker to aid in negating infrared countermeasures (IRCM) and a proximity-fuse warhead.

A K30 Biho system consists of twin 30 mm guns, a TPS-830K surveillance and fire-control radar, an electro-optical targeting system (EOTS), panoramic periscope, forward looking infrared system (FLIR), laser rangefinder (LRF), thermal sight, a TV camera, and a digital fire-control system. The combined targeting system of EOTS, FLIR, and LRF has a targeting range of over 10 km (6.2 mi). The TPS-830K radar can detect and track a 2 m2 (22 sq ft)-RCS target from a range of 17 km (11 mi). The TPS-830K radar of K30 is an X-band (8 to 12.5 GHz) surveillance and fire-control pulse-Doppler radar, specialized for use against low-flying aircraft. Its features include real-time early warning, multiple target detection, an integral L-band (1 to 2 GHz) Identification Friend or Foe (IFF) subsystem, pulse compression, frequency agility, and adaptive moving target indication as an anti-chaff measure.The secondary FLIR system and laser rangefinder supplements the TPS-830K radar to provide additional targeting means in case the radar is rendered inoperative, or is turned off to retain the element of surprise against aircraft that are equipped with radar warning receivers.

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