CHANGWON -- Hanwha Defense Co., a South Korean defense manufacturer, said Sunday it will deliver the prototypes of its newly developed armored vehicle to Australia as part of its bid for Canberra's $4.6 billion project to buy new infantry fighting vehicles.
Three trial products of the new model, dubbed "Redback," will be sent, with two of them set to depart from the port of Pyeongtaek on the west coast Tuesday and to arrive in Melbourne in late August, according to the company.
The remaining unit will be sent later this year, the company said.
Redback is one of the two candidates on the shortlist for Australia's Land 400 Phase 3 project to introduce some 400 new tracked armored vehicles. Hanwha signed a $50 million risk mitigation activity (RMA) contract with Australia in October to provide three prototype vehicles for tests and evaluations.
The other contender is Germany's Rheinmetall Defence Electronics.
Australia will review the new vehicles for 10 months starting November and select the successful bidder by the end of 2022 following additional negotiations and consultations, Hanwha said.
The 40-ton Redback is capable of carrying 11 people -- three crew and eight foot soldiers -- with a maximum speed of 65 kilometers per hour.
The company said it has reduced the overall weight of the vehicle compared to other armored cars and focused on belly protection against landmines and bomb attacks.
"The weight of an armored vehicle usually increases when the defense capabilities are enhanced, but we have applied cutting-edge technologies to improve the protection capabilities without increasing the weight as much," An Byung-chul, the company's vice president in charge of business development in Europe and Australia, told reporters at one of its factories in Changwon, 400 km south of Seoul.
"We will make best efforts to become the final bidder by demonstrating the superiority of our land systems capability and development experience," Hanwha Defense CEO Lee Sung-soo said. (Yonhap)