Australia ordered South Korean BMP AS21 Redback

Australia ordered South Korean BMP AS21 Redback
AS21 Redback infantry fighting vehicle

Since the beginning of the last decade, the Australian Department of Defense has been implementing the LAND 400 ground forces modernization program. Over the past few years, a competition has been held as part of this program to select a new infantry fighting vehicle. After a long study and comparison of the submitted samples, changes in the conditions of the competition, etc., a firm contract for the supply of armored vehicles appeared. Thanks to him, the Australian army in the distant future will have to receive 129 South Korean-designed AS21 Redback vehicles.

Replacement Issues

Since the mid-sixties, American-made M113 armored personnel carriers have been in service with the infantry units of the Australian Army. This technique has been repeatedly repaired and modernized, but has long been outdated morally and physically, as a result of which it does not suit the army. In this regard, in the middle of the last decade, a fundamental decision was made to purchase completely new armored vehicles for infantry.

In 2018, the Australian Department of Defense formulated a requirement for the desired BMP and launched the LAND 400 Phase 3 competition. At that time, the department wanted to purchase 450 tracked infantry fighting vehicles with a total value of no more than 15 billion Australian dollars (approx. 10,3 billion US dollars).

Four foreign participants joined the first stage of the competition. The contract was claimed by Hanwha (South Korea) with the AS21 Redback project, Rheinmetall (Germany) with the KF41 Lynx, as well as General Dynamics (UK) with the Ajax product and the Swedish branch of BAE Systems with the CV 90 Mk IV machine. Comparison of the proposed projects at the documentation level lasted more than a year.

South Korean AS21 (left) and German KF41 in comparative tests, August 2021

In September 2019, based on the results of the evaluation, the customer determined the finalists of the competition. The AS21 and KF41 armored vehicles of South Korean and German development, respectively, were to fight for the contract. At this stage, the applicants were asked for equipment for evaluation and comparative tests at Australian test sites. These events, due to well-known events, were only able to start at the end of 2020.

Financial difficulties

By this time, the LAND 400 Phase 3 program had encountered unforeseen difficulties: the expected cost of 450 promising BMPs had increased dramatically. Depending on the final choice, such purchases could require from 18 to 27 billion Australians. dollars (12-18 billion dollars), which exceeded all the possibilities of the Ministry of Defense even under optimistic scenarios.

In connection with such a reassessment, the further fate of the LAND 400 Phase 3 contest was in question. For several years, the Ministry of Defense has been dealing with this problem, and in April 2023 it made its decision. In the spring, the department released another "strategic defense review" Defense Strategic Review, which described new concepts for the development of the armed forces. In accordance with them, now the priority will be the development of the naval and air forces, and the ground forces will have to prepare, first of all, for expeditionary operations and military operations in the coastal area.

In connection with the change in the goals and objectives of the army, the required composition of the fleet of its armored vehicles was revised. In particular, the number of tracked infantry fighting vehicles selected as part of the LAND 400 Phase 3 competition was decided to be reduced from 450 to 129 units. It is believed that this amount of equipment will be sufficient for the infantry units of the "new look".

Two infantry fighting vehicles before test loading on a landing ship, December 2021

Production contract

Despite the change in the required amount of equipment, the LAND 400 Phase 3 competition was brought to its logical conclusion. On July 27, the Australian government announced the winner of the program - the South Korean-designed AS21 Redback infantry fighting vehicle.

They also announced the signing of a contract for the production of new equipment. The Australian branch of the South Korean company Hanwha Defense Australia has been appointed its lead contractor. She will have to manufacture and transfer to the customer 129 promising infantry fighting vehicles and related equipment, incl. simulators for crew training. Also, the contractor will be responsible for the supply of spare parts, maintenance of equipment, etc. The Ministry of Defense plans to spend a total of 5 to 7 billion Australians under this contract. dollars (3,3-4,7 billion dollars).

The contract also stipulates the conditions for the production and delivery of new equipment, and such plans are scheduled for several years in advance. Under the terms of the agreement, out of 129 BMPs ordered, only 2 will be built in South Korea at the Hanwha plant. The Australian Army will receive them in the middle of the decade and will be able to use them for initial development.

The rest of the BMPs will be manufactured in Australia, for which the Hanwha Defense Australia plant, a South Korean-Australian joint venture, is already under construction in Geelong (Victoria). The plant will start operating no earlier than 2025-26. and master the production of several types of equipment. According to the latest contract, he will assemble 127 AS21 infantry fighting vehicles. In addition, he will have to build three dozen K9 self-propelled howitzers under an agreement dated December 2021. New similar orders may appear.

According to the plans of the Ministry of Defense of Australia, the first infantry fighting vehicles of a new type will be manufactured and handed over to the customer at the beginning of 2027. The last batch is expected no later than the end of next 2028.

The place of new vehicles in the ground forces has already been determined. Over the next few years, the Ministry of Defense plans to change the organizational structure of the army and add new formations to it. In particular, it is planned to create a new armored brigade. It will include a separate mechanized battalion, which will receive all or almost all of the ordered infantry fighting vehicles.

Overall Progress

The successful, with reservations, completion of the LAND 400 Phase 3 competition is a major milestone for the Australian Army. By choosing a promising infantry fighting vehicle, they are bringing the completion of the entire LAND 400 modernization program closer. Now the Ministry of Defense can focus on the last 4 phase of this program.

The LAND 400 ground forces renewal program started at the beginning of the last decade and was divided into four main stages-phases related to the renewal of materiel and related issues. As part of the first, completed in the first half of the XNUMXs, the main directions and methods for the development of the army were worked out. Various measures were proposed to increase combat capability and ensure compliance with the requirements and the overall situation.

In 2014, the second stage was launched - LAND 400 Phase 2. Its goal was to search for a new combat reconnaissance vehicle to replace the existing fleet of obsolete ASLAV products. In 2019, the Boxer CRV armored vehicle from the German company Rheinmetall became the winner of this competition. In the same year, Australia received the first batch of new equipment from Germany, and after 2021 it was planned to establish mass assembly at a new local enterprise. The production of 221 armored vehicles will be completed in 2026.

The competitive part of the third phase lasted from 2018 to 2023 and has just ended with the selection of the winner and the signing of the contract. The production of selected AS21 infantry fighting vehicles is currently only available in South Korea, but an Australian site is planned to open in a few years. Ready-made Redback vehicles will begin to enter the army shortly after the completion of production of the Boxers.

The latest phase of the modernization program, LAND 400 Phase 4, provides for the restructuring of the personnel training system. Educational institutions and units will be re-equipped in accordance with the re-equipment of combat units. In addition, the methods of training future crews of armored vehicles and commanders who will have to manage units on such equipment should change.

The recent change in the development strategy of the armed forces in general and the ground forces in particular does not cancel the current LAND 400 program. At the same time, its third phase has undergone adjustment and reduction. It is possible that the corresponding changes will be made in the next Phase 4. At the same time, there are no plans to change the BRM Boxer CRV construction program.

Plans and reality

As such, Australia is continuing a major and ambitious program to re-equip and modernize its ground forces. She managed to complete the next tender, select a new model of equipment for future rearmament and place an order for mass production. At the same time, the Australian army was faced with the problem of excessive growth in the cost of the desired products, and she had to reduce her requests.

Despite recent cuts, the Australian Department of Defense believes that it will be able to fulfill all plans and complete the LAND 400 program. However, such optimism may be unjustified and excessive. Due to limited financial resources and changes in the overall strategy, an important component of the program had to be revised. It cannot be ruled out that the same will have to be done with other "phases". The production of new armored vehicles of two types will continue until 2026-28, and during this time a lot can change.
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  1. +3
    2 August 2023 06: 56
    The Australian government announced the winner of the program - the South Korean-designed AS21 Redback infantry fighting vehicle.
    We must pay tribute to the South Korean BTT, which is in increasing demand in various countries. Apparently, Australia also did not escape the arms race that swept the entire Western bloc.
  2. +2
    2 August 2023 09: 02
    Well done Koreans! And then there was so much noise. World conspiracy! , now the United States will sell its equipment to all its puppets, only the US military-industrial complex will remain, all the rest will die.
    And then bam Koreans) They will soon sell something to the USA themselves at such a pace, I won’t be surprised at all hi
    1. 0
      2 August 2023 12: 43
      The question arises: who owns the Korean enterprises that produce weapons?
    2. +1
      2 August 2023 15: 46
      So As21 is an infantry fighting vehicle of the traditional for the countries of the second echelon of performance "with the world on a string": smile
      It is reported that in the version for Australia, the As21 BMP has a combat weight of 42 tons, can reach speeds of up to 65 km / h on all-rubber tracks, and has a cruising range of up to 520 km. The vehicle has a crew of three and can accommodate up to eight paratroopers in anti-mine seats.

      The vehicle is powered by a 1000 hp MTU eight-cylinder diesel engine, similar to the one used in the Boxer wheeled combat reconnaissance vehicle acquired by Australia under the Land 400 Phase 2 program. The Redback uses the same Alison automatic transmission as the M1A1 Abrams tanks . The undercarriage of the BMP consists of seven road wheels on board and an advanced independent suspension system (ISU) on levers, which allows you to individually control each roller and does not require torsion bars, which improves mine protection. The armor protection of the turret and hull of Australian vehicles will be completely made of Australian-made Bisalloy armor steel.

      The BMP is equipped with an optional manned Redback turret based on the serial MT30 Mk 2 turret from the Israeli company Elbit Systems, modified to meet the requirements of the Land 400 program. The turret is equipped with a 30-mm Northrop Grumman Mk44S Bushmaster II cannon with a coaxial 7,62-mm MAG58 machine gun and an integrated retractable launcher for two Rafael Spike-LR2 anti-tank guided missiles. The vehicles must be regularly equipped with the Elbit Systems Iron Fist Light active protection system. On the roof of the turret in front of the gunner's hatch, a remotely controlled weapon station EOS R400S Mk 2 RWS is installed, which can be equipped with various weapons and also acts as a commander's panoramic sight using a thermal imaging camera.

      The Redback turret also has an Elbit Systems Iron Vision system that provides the vehicle commander (and other crew members, if required) with a XNUMX-degree view of the exterior from turret-mounted cameras. Iron Vision also provides general access to all sights and the ability to fire from the commander's helmet-mounted sight or issue target designation to the gunner.
      1. 0
        3 August 2023 09: 53
        Quote: Alexey RA
        It is reported that in the version for Australia, the As21 BMP has a combat weight of 42 tons, can reach speeds of up to 65 km / h

        Here is the trend in the development of modern infantry fighting vehicles - their level of protection has completely approached / caught up with the level of protection of MBTs. This also applies to European infantry fighting vehicles of the latest generation. Of particular interest (because it is true) is the decision to abandon aluminum alloys in the construction of the hull and turret (whoever knows how aluminum burns under a cumulative jet will understand). A normal infantry fighting vehicle with a high level of protection against heavy fragments and automatic guns, as well as to the extent possible from some types of anti-tank weapons.
        The need for this type of TBMP for the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation has been said and written more than once, and the current conflict has already confirmed the correctness of such proposals and urgent requests hundreds of times. The Armed Forces of the Russian Federation need heavy infantry fighting vehicles with the level of tank protection, front placement of MTO, a convenient troop compartment and a ramp for fast and safe dismounting of the troops. But the combat module can be any of the many available.
        And you don’t have to rack your brains with the design of such a machine, because there is a very interesting example of solving such an issue when reworking the T-55 and T-64 by the designers of the Kharkov plant on the eve of the coup in a neighboring country. These materials , photos and video demonstrations are in the public domain . Take the design of such an TBTR as a basis and set the task for one (or better, two at once) tank repair plant to transform the hulls of the T-55 and T-64 tanks (and they will definitely not be used as tanks) into such TBTRs. At the same time, if you pay attention to the nature of the reservation of these vehicles by Kharkovites then, and the experience of bringing the reservation and installation of dynamic protection on our T-72B3M already during the CBO, you can understand that the level of protection of such TBTRs can be the highest. And as a combat module, any module that is not submersible in the case can be used. Let's say a module from the BTR-82A (the simplest and most affordable solution). A more serious module will already turn this machine into a TBMP. At the same time, it must be borne in mind that the Kharkov engineers managed to make the troop compartment so spacious that the TBTR-55 could accommodate 12 troops (except for 3 crew members), and the TBTR-64 ​​- already 14 people. It is clear that more space may be required for a fully equipped fighter, but the very fact of such a capacious airborne squad with such a high degree of security and comfortable layout should not be left without attention. We have several thousand tanks of old types at storage bases (at least 64 T-2500s alone). They will no longer be used as tanks, turrets and guns have been removed from many of them (to replace the shot T-72 and T-80 barrels in the NWO), but their hulls and chassis can still serve the Fatherland, turning under the hands of experienced welders and locksmiths into heavy armored personnel carriers and infantry fighting vehicles for our assault infantry. We have a long way to go to fight. The armies of the countries opposing us are armed with highly protected infantry fighting vehicles and armored personnel carriers in fairly large quantities. We have the most protected infantry fighting vehicle, this is the BMP-3M with an aluminum (combined, but still) hull ... This is a very good infantry fighting vehicle, besides it is floating, but assault infantry needs equipment with a tank protection level. And our Armed Forces of the Russian Federation need from 2000 to 3000 such TBTRs and TBMPs. Making such vehicles from scratch is too long, expensive, and the factories are loaded to capacity with the production of tanks and BMPTs ... But the alteration of the hulls of old tanks according to the modernized project of Kharkov engineers is the best solution that will allow all these works to be carried out by tank repair plants without distracting the main capacity from the release of new technology. Engines for such TBTR and TBMP can be taken from the T-72 of previous modifications, there should be a lot of them in storage. The power of 860 l \ s for cars weighing 35 tons + will be quite enough. As a result, the troops will receive high-class heavy vehicles for assault infantry, at the same time at minimal cost and without diverting the main production from the production of new equipment.
        And this must be done as soon as possible.
    3. 0
      20 September 2023 19: 06
      At this rate they will soon be selling something to the USA itself, I wouldn’t be surprised at all

      Easily. The United States often goes for purchasing something from other countries and for cooperation.
  3. +3
    2 August 2023 09: 18
    This is now one of the advanced serial infantry fighting vehicles .... an analogue of Puma, Ajax ...
  4. +2
    2 August 2023 18: 39
    I sincerely admire the capabilities of South Korea's defense sector. They have managed to create a series of first-class products. good
    1. +3
      2 August 2023 21: 21
      There are consumer electronics, they make their own cars, so the time has come to the military-industrial complex.
  5. 0
    2 September 2023 07: 56
    That's what you think: a happy country. Well, why does she need an army at all? With whom to fight? And then you look at the facts.... It turns out that this is the most aggressive country in the world. She never fought on her territory. All the time sticking his nose and large military contingents wherever he gets. What can Australia do in Europe? Turkey? Korea? Even, it seems, they climbed into Vietnam. I don't remember exactly.
    And at first I thought it was a joke. But what are the jokes?
  6. 0
    6 October 2023 21: 22
    In Australia, the military is not smart, why do they need infantry fighting vehicles in their theater when they need armored personnel carriers and tanks, or is there something we don’t know, will they attack China?
  7. 0
    6 October 2023 21: 29
    Who are they going to fight with, who is planning to attack them? I'm afraid to think that the Kunguru are really preparing an armed rebellion? They would sit on their island and not bubble.