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Defense

Global partnership pushes Hanwha into final round of Aussie armored vehicle deal

Aug 19, 2020 (Gmt+09:00)

Hanwha Defense Co. has reached the final stretch in a race to win Australia’s 5-trillion won (US$4.2 billion) project to buy new infantry fighting vehicles (IFVs), with its strategy of localization and global cooperation adding wind to the South Korean defense contractor’s bid to clinch the deal.

Hanwha said two of its initial tracked armored IFV vehicles, Redbacks, are set to arrive in Melbourne soon for local testing as the company makes its final push in a dual with Germany's Rheinmetall Defence Electronics GmbH.

“In addition to our advanced technology, our strategy to localize our business there helped us advance to the final round. We hope that the strategy will lead us to a deal,” said a Hanwha source.

Hanwha Defense

In September last year, Hanwha was shortlisted as one of two finalists for Australia’s Land 400 Phase 3 project to supply some 400 new tracked armored vehicles to replace the Australian Army's M113AS4 armored personnel carriers. Hanwha beat out defense giants such as General Dynamics Corp. of the US, and the UK’s BAE Systems plc which produces the M2 Bradley IFV.

Hanwha proposed its AS-21 Redback, which is based on the K21 tracked armored IFV currently in service with the Korean Army, while rival Rheinmetall put forward its KF41 Lynx.

Under an AUD50 million Risk Mitigation Activity (RMA) contract signed with Australia in October, Hanwha promised to deliver two Redbacks by late August for tests and a third vehicle by early next year. Australia will then review the new vehicles for 10 months from November and select the successful bidder by the end of 2022.

LOCALIZATION, GLOBAL COOPERATION KEY TO SUCCESS

In an effort to outbid Rheinmetall, Hanwha has teamed up with Israeli defense firm Elbit Systems Ltd. and Australia’s Electro Optic Systems (EOS). While Elbit Systems manufactures the turret and the monitoring sensor systems and Australia’s EOS makes the remote-controlled weapon systems (RCWS), Hanwha assembles all equipment to produce the vehicle.

The Korean company said it is also contacting some 400 small defense firms in Australia to procure vehicle parts and other components in its strategy of localization and global cooperation.

“In the defense industry, local production and cooperation with local firms is an increasingly important factor when selecting a foreign bidder for a defense procurement project. In that sense, our Redback is getting high marks from Australia,” said a Hanwha official.

The Redback, named after a highly venomous spider found in Australia, also boasts state-of-the-art technology.

The 40-ton Redback can accommodate 11 people -- eight dismounted troops and a crew of three soldiers (driver, commander and gunner), moving at a maximum speed of 65 kilometers per hour. It is equipped with the K9 self-propelled artillery power pack that combines the engine and transmission, a solution that’s been exported to Norway and other advanced countries.

The vehicle also features an in-arm suspension unit, which enables improved defense capability on reduced body weight, while Germany's Rheinmetall uses torsion bar suspension.

AUSSIE SUCCESS TO BOOST CHANCE FOR NEXT BID

A successful bid for the Australian project is expected to boost Korea’s chances for similar armored vehicle projects in the US and UK, for which biddings are set to open next March. Hanwha plans to enter those races as well.

“Undoubtedly, a success in our bid for the Australian project will positively affect our attempts for upcoming projects from the US and UK,” said a Hanwha official. “We hope the Redback will become another hot Korean export item like the K9 Thunder (self-propelled howitzer).”

Hanwha Defense is a wholly-owned unit of Hanwha Aerospace Co., which is a defense manufacturing subsidiary of the chemicals-to-finance conglomerate Hanwha Group.

By Man-Su Choe

bebop@hankyung.com

In-Soo Nam edited this article

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