Hanwha Defense Australia and Team Redback have officially launched the Redback Infantry Fighting vehicle (IFV) in Australia, Hanwha announced on Jan. 12.
Redback is one of the two vehicles, the other being Rheinmetall’s Lynx KF41, shortlisted for the Australian Army’s LAND 400 Phase 3 IFV procurement program. The unveiling came ahead of delivering three Redback vehicles to compete in the test and evaluation trials being conducted as part of the Risk Mitigation Activity (RMA) for project Land 400 Phase 3.
Land 400 Phase 3 is an $18-$27 billion project tasked to acquire a fleet of tracked Infantry Fighting Vehicles that will replace the M113AS4 Armoured Personnel Carrier (APC) fleet. This is the first time that the Australian Defence Force (ADF) will have a dedicated IFV and will be the cornerstone of the Army Close Combat Capability.
The Risk Mitigation Activity involves detailed test and evaluation of the vehicles that will be undertaken throughout 2021 with the aim of providing objective quality evidence to support a Government decision on the preferred tenderer.
Team Redback is the group of companies led by Hanwha Defense Australia that currently includes Electro Optic Systems, Elbit Systems, ECLIPS, Milspec, Bisalloy, Soucy, Marand and CBG Systems and continues to expand. Hanwha said in a statement that the aim of Team Redback is to “deliver an Infantry Fighting Vehicle capability to the Commonwealth that integrates the best of Korean manufacturing expertise and armoured vehicle design with Australian production, supply and integration know-how.”
Hanwha says that all integration work needed to prepare the Redback for the Risk Mitigation Activity trials has been undertaken locally by members of Team Redback as part of an unprecedented Australian Industry Capability component of Hanwha’s Land 400 Phase 3 bid.
“The Redback is a highly advanced infantry fighting vehicle and I believe it to be the safest and most lethal on offer to the Commonwealth,” Richard Cho, Managing Director of Hanwha Defense Australia, said. “The Risk Mitigation Activity is a great opportunity for the Commonwealth to become familiar with the highly advanced technology seamlessly integrated in Redback.
“The Iron Vision system that allows the Redback’s crew to effectively look through the hull of the vehicle as though it isn’t there is an absolute game changer when it comes to operating heavy armoured vehicles in close company with dismounted troops.”
If selected for Land 400 Phase 3, Hanwha will construct the Australian Redback vehicles at a purpose-built facility in Greater Geelong.
AS21 Redback is a variant of K21 infantry fighting vehicle originally developed for South Korea’s Republic of Korea Army (ROKA) and manufactured by Hanwha Defense.
The Redback IFV is equipped with a new T2000 turret which will be developed, manufactured and supported in Australia by EOS Defence Systems, a subsidiary of Electro Optic Systems (EOS). The turret will combine the Elbit Systems’ proven MT30 Mk2 turret with EOS’ fire control and electro optic technology.
The Redback’s Australian turret has will be integrated with a 30mm cannon, EOS’ remote weapons station (RWS), Elbit’s active protection system (APS), onboard training systems and situational awareness technology all brought together for the first time in a dedicated IFV turret.
Redback’s main armament is a Mk44S Bushmaster II 30mm cannon capable of firing all 30mm x 173mm ammunition in service with 19 nations, including the US, the UK, and other allies and NATO forces. The cannon fires ammunition from numerous providers, including advanced munitions such as proximity fused rounds. Every cannon is fitted with a fuse setter for programmable rounds such as programmable air burst munition and proximity fused rounds. It can also be rapidly upgraded to the 40mm Supershot by exchanging three parts, giving increased lethality without the need to modify the turret or cannon.
The Redback is also armed with a 7.62mm co-axially mounted machine gun, and the EOS RWS can be fitted with a range of weapons including 7.62mm machine gun, .50 caliber machine and an automatic grenade launcher.
The vehicle has a layered protection system including Elbit APS, Plasan’s world class armour and a structure designed to protect occupants from the effects of blast. It is supported by an independent suspension system which does not use torsion bars, supplying more space for blast mitigation systems that remove the dependence on old fashioned suspended footrests and other design constraints.
The Redback rides on rubber tracks that reduce noise and vibration while offering superior ride quality for its crew and the soldiers it protects. According to Hanwha, the vehicle is also equipped with advanced situational awareness systems normally found on jet fighters such as see through vision and helmet slaved systems.
LAND 400 Phase 3
The LAND 400 Phase 3 Mounted Close Combat Capability Program will replace the Australian Army’s current fleet of M113 Armoured Personnel Carriers (APCs) with up to 450 modern Infantry Fighting Vehicles (IFV) and 17 Manoeuvre Support Vehicles (MSV).
By the project, Australia is seeking an IFV, with high levels of protection, lethality, and mobility, and is capable of lifting a standard infantry battalion section (minimum of 6 dismounts). The tactical maneuverability characteristics of the vehicle are to be similar to the Australian Army M1 Abrams Main Battle Tank (MBT) fleet to enable combined arms maneuver.
South Korea’s Hanwha Defense is offering AS21 Redback IFV for the program while Germany’s Rheinmetall Defence is offering Lynx KF41 IFV. AS21 Redback is a variant of K21 IFV originally developed for the South Korean Army and Lynx KF41 is the latest variant of Lynx armored fighting vehicle (AFV) developed by Rheinmetall.
The companies defeated proposals by USA’s General Dynamics Land Systems (GLS) offering AJAX AFV, and UK/Sweden’s BAE Systems Hägglunds offering CV90 IFV.
The new vehicles are expected to enter into service by the mid-2020s.