Australian’s Minister for Defence Industry Pat Conroy announced on 27 July 2023 the selection of Hanwha Defence Australia (HAD) as the winning Mounted Combat Capability Infantry Fighting Vehicle (IFV) candidate for Land 400 Phase 3 program.
The announcement marks the conclusion of a five-year competitive tender, proposal, and hardware test and evaluation process that began in 2017. HAD offered a version of its Republic of Korea Hanwha Defence KF41. The Redback draws on the technology and experience of the company’s KF21 IFV that has been in service with the Republic of Korea Army since 2009. The competing IFV was the Lynx KF41 IFV offered by Germany’s Rheinmetall Defence Australia (RDA).
Richard Cho, Managing Director of HDA stated “The selection of the Redback for the Australian Army is an exciting milestone not just for soldiers, who will have an IFV that was specifically designed and built for them, as it also cements the closer ties between Australia and the Republic of Korea.”
The IFV acquisition has a value of AUD5–7 billion (USD3.3–4.6 billion) reflecting the acquisition of 129 systems to be provided in two variants the IFV and a Joint Fires Vehicle. The delivery quantity is reduced from the original requirement of 450 reflecting recommendations of the recent Defence Strategic Review (DSR). The DSR proposed a refocus of the defence forces toward littoral expeditionary operations. Implementation of the DSR included a reduced emphasis on “heavy” mechanized units.
Redbacks will be constructed in Australia at HDA’s facility in the Geelong region, near Melbourne, with deliver between early 2027 and late 2028. Hanwha has already invested in the Geelong facility to build the K9 155mm tracked howitzer in its earlier, $1 billion AUD contract award in December 2021. Initial two prototype vehicles will be built in South Korea, with the balance to be built in Geelong.
The Redback weighs 42 tons, a speed of 65 km/h, range of 520 km, with a crew of three, and up to eight dismounts. It uses an advanced in-arm independent suspension system (ISU) that also provides effective blast mitigation. It is powered by a 1,000 hp MTU eight-cylinder diesel similar to that used in the Boxer Combat Reconnaissance Vehicle.
The Redback turret is from Elbit’s electric drive MT30 Mk 2 turret tailored to Land 400’s requirements. It uses the Northrop Grumman Mk44S Bushmaster II 30 mm cannon firing 30mm x 173mm ammunition including armour piercing and programable air burst. A MAG58 7.62 mm coaxial machine gun is also fitted. A retractable launcher has two Spike LR2 antitank guided missiles. The vehicle also mounts the Elbit Iron Fist light decoupled active protection system.
The EOS R400S Mk2 Remote weapon station is mounted on the turret roof also provides the commander’s sight with day and medium-wave infrared cooled thermal cameras. The Redback incorporates the Elbit Iron Vision system which furnishes the wearer a heads-up external view from a turret-mounted camera array. It allows access to all sights, the ability to cue the gunner or to shoot. It also displays from the battle management system to maintain situational awareness.
“The Redback is a highly advanced infantry fighting vehicle and is one of the safest and most lethal platform soldiers can use,” Cho said.
by Stephen W. Miller