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South Korea Deploys New K30W Chunho Air Defense System During Freedom Shield 24 Exercise with US.

| Defense News Army 2024

During the military exercise, Freedom Shield 24 (FS24) involved U.S. and South Korean soldiers in South Korea, the latest generation of mobile air defense system called K30W Chunho was deployed by the South Korean armed forces. Freedom Shield 24 (FS24) is an 11-day military exercise that began on March 4 and continued until March 14, 2024.
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The new K30W Chunho mobile self-propelled anti-aircraft gun system was deployed during the military exercise Freedom Shield 24 in South Korea. (Picture source Korea Defence Blog X account)

The Freedom Shield 24 (FS24) military exercise involved military forces from the Republic of Korea (ROK) and the United States and aimed to reflect the Korea Theater of Operations, which includes a combined, joint, multi-domain, and interagency operating environment. FS24 is designed to build understanding and coordination between the Combined Forces Command, United States Forces Korea, the United Nations Command, and the ROK Joint Chiefs of Staff. The goal is to enhance the combined defense posture and Alliance response capabilities against a spectrum of security threats.

The exercise featured live, virtual, constructive, and field-based training, engaging military personnel from various services and other federal agencies. It focuses on conducting multi-domain operations that leverage land, sea, air, cyber, and space assets, with an emphasis on counter-nuclear operations and non-kinetic effects. Service members from 12 United Nations Command Member States, including Australia, Belgium, Canada, Colombia, France, Great Britain, Greece, Italy, New Zealand, the Philippines, Thailand, and the U.S., are participating, adding to the international character of the exercise. The Neutral Nations Supervisory Commission is also observing and conducting third-party observations in line with the Armistice Agreement responsibilities.

FS24 was conducted in the spirit of the October 1, 1953, ROK-U.S. Mutual Defense Treaty and supports the Armistice Agreement. It underscores the enduring military partnership between the ROK and the U.S., reinforcing the Alliance's role as a linchpin for regional peace and security. The exercise also demonstrates the U.S.'s unwavering commitment to defending the ROK. In conjunction with FS24, ROK-led and U.S.-led units are conducting several large-scale, combined training sessions to enhance interoperability and elevate combat readiness, aiming to bolster security and stability not just on the Korean peninsula but across Northeast Asia and the Indo-Pacific.

The K30W Chunho nicknamed Sky Tiger, is a modern anti-aircraft gun wheeled armored vehicle system developed by Hanwha Aerospace for the Republic of Korea Army. It is designed to offer improved defense against low-flying aircraft and drones, replacing the older 20mm M167 Vulcan Air Defense System that has been in service for over four decades across the South Korean Army, Air Force, and Marine Corps. Based on the Hyundai Rotem K808 8×8 armored vehicle chassis, the K30W AAGV features a two-man turret, which is also used on the tracked K30 Biho self-propelled anti-aircraft gun (SPAAG).

The main armament of the K30W Chunho consists of two 30mm Rheinmetall Air Defense (Oerlikon) KCB automatic cannons. These cannons are manufactured under license by the South Korean S&T group and are designed to offer effective defense against low-flying aircraft and drones. With a cyclic rate of fire of 600 rounds per minute for each gun and an effective firing range of approximately 3 kilometers, these cannons provide the K30W Chunho with potent firepower. Each gun is supplied with 300 rounds of ready-to-use ammunition, ensuring the vehicle can sustain fire for an extended period during engagements.

The K30W Chunho is designed to accommodate a crew of three, including a commander, gunner, and driver, with additional space for more operators if necessary. Its armor provides protection against small arms fire and artillery shell splinters, making it a formidable addition to South Korea's air defense capabilities.

The development of the K30W Chunho began with a focus on enhancing localized support and self-targeting functionalities through advanced targeting systems. It was introduced into service after South Korea's Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) confirmed the initial batch of AAGWs had been received by the military.

This system signifies a major upgrade in South Korea's air defense, with Hanwha Defense and Hyundai Rotem playing critical roles in its development and production. The introduction of the K30W Chunho is a clear demonstration of South Korea's commitment to maintaining a robust defense posture against evolving aerial threats.

Defense News March 2024

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