In January this year, the International Armoured Vehicle conference in London re-affirmed that armour is far from dead. Leaders in uniforms and Defence Industry from Five Eyes nations, Europe, the Middle East and Asia gathered to reflect on the lessons learned from the Ukraine conflict, which has provided clarity and focus on modern warfighting in practice.
The concepts of land forces being mobile, reliable, and simple to run and maintain have not changed in centuries, regardless of technological improvements. One speaker showed pictures from World War II that were then overlaid from pictures taken in the Ukraine over the few months; they were virtually identical in their trenches, vehicles, bombed buildings and soldiers looking tired.
What has changed in the context of warfighting is the layering of the digital battlespace over the metal and mud. Fire control systems, smart rounds, guided munitions, drones and satellite communications have seen the fog of war become a sea of data.
But the basic tenets remain unchanged; mobility, reliability, and ease of use. These are concepts that Hanwha have been working on for over 70 years in South Korea and internationally. A peninsula nation with a neighbour to the north that is still technically at war with, South Korea has never really forgotten what an active war footing looks like.
With the Republic of Korea Armed Forces having one of the largest standing forces in the world, it is ranked as the 6th most powerful miliary in the world thanks to its size and capabilities.
South Korea has invested heavily in its own defence industry for obvious reasons with numerous companies providing a range of capabilities. Hanwha has specialised in armoured vehicles, artillery and engines for decades with an emphasis on being ready, reliable and responsive. The K9 self-propelled howitzer, a tracked gun with an armoured resupply vehicle known as the K10, is now in service or on order with 10 nations.
The ready, reliable and responsive design philosophy flows into all Hanwha platforms. The Redback vehicle is included in this school of thought, blending those key concepts while embracing the demanding challenges of the digital battlefield that requires higher levels of protection and situational awareness alongside integrated training.
Given the geopolitical circumstances of South Korea, much of their Defence industry base is in the south of the nation. Hanwha’s own facilities in Changwon are named Plant 1 and Plant 2. Plant 3 is now being constructed in Geelong, next to Avalon airport. Known as the H-ACE (Hanwha Armoured vehicle Centre of Excellence), this is where the Australian variant of the K9 and K10, the AS9 and AS10 under LAND 8116, will be built by Hanwha Defense Australia.
The geostrategic hedging strategy on the capability front for both South Korea and Australia will see the establishment of a huge transfer of technology program and the strengthening of ties between the two nations.
Disclaimer: Hanwha Defense Australia’s Redback Infantry Fighting Vehicle is one of two tenders currently under consideration as part of the Australian Department of Defence’s Infantry Fighting Vehicle project (LAND 400 Phase 3).
Image The H-ACE (Hanwha Armoured vehicle Centre of Excellence) is now under construction. Credit: HDA