South Korea: Hanwha Defense demonstrates combat capabilities of AS21 Redback tracked armored IFV

According to information published on May 29, 2022, the AS21 Redback tracked armored Infantry Fighting Vehicle (IFV), developed by the South Korean company Hanwha Defense, has demonstrated its outstanding performance during a media invitation event held on May 27, 2022, at an Army unit in South Korea.
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South Korean Hanwha Defense AS-21 Redback tracked armored IFV Infantry Fighting Vehicle in the live demonstration. (Picture source Hanwha Defense)

The event took place at the end of the Republic of Korean Army's six-week-long trial of the next-generation IFV. The ROK Army trial followed the Redback's successful tests and evaluations last year under the Australian Risk Mitigation Activity to select the preferred bidder for the LAND 400 Phase 3 project aimed at acquiring about 400 next-generation IFVs.

During the media event, the tracked armored vehicle impressed the audience by showcasing its off-road maneuverability through an obstacle course, including a ramp and a muddy puddle of water. The vehicle also performed its pivot steer; turret rotation; and troop dismounting.

The first prototype of the AS21 Redback was unveiled in October 2019 during ADEX, Seoul International Aerospace & Defense Exhibition that was held at Seoul Airbase in South Korea. The vehicle is also one of the candidates for the Australian Army’s LAND 400 Phase 3 IFV program with the goal to replace the M113AS4 in service with the Australian army.

The AS21 Redback is a fifth-generation IFV (Infantry Fighting Vehicle) based on tracked armored chassis that features a range of state-of-the-art technologies, including composite rubber tracks and an In-arm suspension unit (ISU). The rubber tracks reduce noise and vibration significantly while offering superior ride quality for its crew and the soldiers it protects. The advanced ISU allows more space for add-on armor to mitigate blasts underneath.

The AS21 Redback is fitted with an EOS T-2000 turret which is armed with a Bushmaster MK44S 30mm cannon, a MAG 58 7.62mm coaxial machine gun, 76 mm multi-barrel smoke grenade dischargers, and two SPIKE LR2 missile launchers. The vehicle can be also equipped with an EOS R400S Mk2 HD or R150 remote weapon system armed with Javelin anti-tank guided missiles. As Infantry Fighting Vehicle, the AS-21 Redback has a crew of three including a driver, commander and gunner, while its rear compartment is able to accommodate up to eight dismounted troops.

The AS21 also represents the latest innovations in terms of protection. The hull and the turret can have protection Level STANAG 2 to 6. It can be also equipped with an advanced active protection system (APS) that can defend against incoming line-of-sight guided anti-tank missiles/projectiles.

The AS21 Redback is powered by an MTU eight-cylinder diesel engine developing 1,000hp. The vehicle can reach a top road speed of up to 65km/h with a maximum cruising range of 520 km.

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"The reliability and sophisticated technology of the Redback IFV have been proved during the latest ROK Army trial run of the vehicle, which is expected to be a strong basis for the Redback's international sales and marketing," said Brig. Gen. Cho Hyun-ki, head of the DAPA's Maneuver Program Department.

"Domestically, we consider acquiring a Korean version of the Redback meeting the ROK Army's operational concept and capable of featuring technology and performance required by the service, under a fast-track research and development program," Cho added. "With this approach, the ROK Army will be able to deploy next-generation IFVs earlier than schedule, which will contribute to improving the service's capability to deploy and sustain armed forces."

The fast-track R&D program is aimed at procuring weapons systems equipped with the latest technologies after verifying the military utilization of the systems concerned. With this rapid R&D program, the military is able to shorten the period of introducing state-of-the-art weapons systems to an extent.

Hanwha Defense is on track to meet the potential demands of the ROK Army, as the company is scheduled to conduct the durability testing on the Redback's maneuverability on the Korean terrain from August this year. The testing is to cover around 10,000 kilometers of driving on rough terrain as well as on paved and unpaved roads.

Taking advantage of core technologies of the K21 Infantry Fighting Vehicle, the Redback was developed to meet the operational requirements of the Australian Defence Force. The tracked vehicle features several innovative technologies such as the composite rubber track; the Iron Vision see-through helmet mounted display; the Iron Fist hard-kill active protection system; the In-arm type hydro-pneumatic suspension unit; the offboard Health and Usage Management System; and the Solar Sigma Shield technology.

The Redback is also receiving strong attention from the US and European markets. The Oshkosh Defense Consortium, including Hanwha Defense USA, is trying to leverage the proven capability of the Redback for the US Army's Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle (OMFV) design effort. Several European nations have also shown in the Redback for their IFV acquisition programs.

"The Redback demonstrated its overwhelming performance during the final tests and evaluations in Australia, and the latest trial run of the Redback for the ROK Army proved the vehicle's all-terrain capabilities and reliability," said Lee Boo-hwan, Vice President of Hanwha Defense's Overseas Department. "We're confident in the Redback's competitiveness in the global IFV market."

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