Hanwha Defence Australia announced teaming arrangements for its Land 400 Phase 3 bid in Melbourne on May 23.
The company is teaming with EOS Group and Elbit Systems, with a vehicle based on the South Korean Army’s K21 Infantry Fighting Vehicle (IFV) and designated AS21 Redback.
The Australian version will have an EOS T2000 turret (fitted with an ATK 30mm cannon) and R400 Remote Weapons Station (RWS) and Elbit will furnish the Battlefield Management System (BMS) as well as its Iron Fist Active Protection System (APS) and Iron Vision see-through armour system.
Hanwha has previously announced that if it is successful in the competition, it will build a new facility in the Greater Geelong area to produce vehicles for the ADF and also, possibly, for export.
“We’re very proud that Hanwha has chosen Victoria as the place where it will seek to base its operations in Australia,” the Victorian Government’s Minister for Jobs Martin Pakula said at the teaming announcement.
“To have global companies based here in Victoria delivering cutting edge technology for the Australian and global defence markets is something that is very important to us.”
Under a two-stage program, Hanwha is proposing to build the chassis of the first 50 AS21 in South Korea, while simultaneously transferring technology to the local industry base in Geelong. Local industry will perform systems integration with the EOS Australian-made turrets and Government Furnished Equipment (GFE). Stage two will see the local manufacture of 350 vehicles, beginning in the middle of 2025.
“The interesting element to our approach to Australia is that we come from a nation that understands what self-reliance means, we are faced with a 24/7 threat from our northern neighbour, so therefore self-reliance is of paramount importance to South Korea,” explained Hanwha Defence Australia managing director Richard Cho.
“We believe Australia is no different. For the ADF to be able to operate and sustain its systems, it needs to be self-reliant. Based on that thought, our objective is to create self-reliance within Australia – that means our ability to transfer technologies, our ability to transfer intellectual property to the Australian industry base, to ensure that industry base is able to support and sustain the systems Defence will acquire.”
Cho added that Hanwha intended to utilise the expertise it intends to grow in Australia to potentially export to the Five Eyes (Australia, Canada, NZ, the US and UK) market.
During the recent federal election campaign, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced that if re-elected, the Coalition government would acquire 30 self-propelled howitzers and their support vehicles and systems, which would also be built in Geelong.
Hanwha is proposing a local version of its K9 Thunder 155mm SPH, previously dubbed Aussie Thunder and it says it will build the vehicle in Geelong if it is successful, irrespective of the Land 400 Phase 3 outcome.
“Hanwha is very much committed to establish true self-reliance capability in Australia, working with the industrial base here in Victoria and the Greater Geelong area for Land 400,” Hanwha Defence CEO Sungsoo Lee said.
“The recent announcement by the government to revisit (a) self-propelled howitzer capability also provides additional opportunity for us to work closely with the industry base in Geelong to deliver capabilities for the ADF.”