South Korean defence manufacturer and LAND 400 Phase 3 contender Hanwha Defense said on Sunday it plans to deliver the prototypes of its ‘Redback’ armoured vehicle to Melbourne, as part of its bid for the $10-15 billion project to replace Army’s Vietnam-era M113 armoured personnel carrier (APC) force.
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Two of three Redback prototypes destined for Australia will depart South Korea on Tuesday, with an arrival slated for late August. The final unit will be sent later this year, the company said.
The move caps off a $50 million risk mitigation activity (RMA) contract signed with the federal government in October to provide prototype vehicles for tests and evaluations, and will see the Redback AS21 pitched against a bid by Germany's Rheinmetall Defence Electronics for its KF41 variant.
Hanwha officials have thrown their weight behind the bid in local media, with CEO Lee Sung-soo telling the Yonhap newspaper that the company hopes to "demonstrate the superiority of our land systems capability and development experience".
Vice president An Byung-chul pointed to reductions in weight and belly protection as benefits of the variant.
"The weight of an armoured vehicle usually increases when the defence capabilities are enhanced, but we have applied cutting-edge technologies to improve the protection capabilities without increasing the weight as much," he told reporters on Sunday.
The next stage of the LAND 400 Phase 3 project involves a 10-month period of intensive testing, scheduled to start in November. A successful bidder is expected to be selected by 2022.
The AS21 Redback was first unveiled at the Seoul International Aerospace & Defense Exhibition 2019 (ADEX 2019) in October 2019, after Hanwha partnered with EOS Systems to launch its LAND 400 Phase 3 bid.