The South Korean Army will begin deploying the K-21 armoured vehicle to major armoured divisions and training facilities after undergoing successful firing tests.

Korea’s next-generation infantry fighting vehicle (KNIFV) XK21 will be used to enhance the fighting capabilities of the country’s armed forces by the end of 2009.

The 25t infantry fighting vehicle is capable of operating at a speed of up to 70km/h with a crew of three and nine additional passengers.

The 6.9m-long, 3.4m-wide K21 is designed to carry a 40mm autocannon and a 7.62mm machine gun to defeat heavily armed and armoured IFVs.

Korea’s Defense Acquisition Programme Administration (DAPA) said the army has invested $73m since 1999 for the development of the K21, and it plans to produce another 500 vehicles of the same class.