AS21 Redback is an advanced infantry fighting vehicle (IFV) proposed by South Korean firm Hanwha Defense for the Australian Army.
The IFV will provide superior mobility and complete protection against ballistic, mine and chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear (CBRN) threats.
The Redback IFV is an advanced version of the K21 IFV, which is in service with the South Korean Army (ROK Army).
The prototype vehicle was unveiled at the Seoul International Aerospace & Defense Exhibition 2019 (ADEX 2019) held at Seoul Airbase in South Korea, in October 2019.
AS21 Redback development details
The AS21 Redback is being offered for the Australian Army’s LAND 400 Phase 3 IFV programme. Rheinmetall Defence’s Lynx KF41 IFV and Redback IFV were selected for the programme in September 2019.
The LAND 400 Phase 3, also known as the Mounted Close Combat Capability requirement, is a A$15bn ($10.3bn) Australian Department of Defence (DoD) project to acquire 450 IFVs and 17 manoeuvre support vehicles (MSVs) for the Australian Army.
The DoD signed contracts worth A$50m ($37.6m) with Hanwha and Rheinmetall for the Risk Mitigation Activity (RMA) phase of the LAND 400 Phase 3 programme in October 2019. The RMA trials will include a rage of tests to evaluate lethality, blast and ballistics, transportability, and mobility of the vehicles.
The programme will progress to the procurement process, which includes final evaluation and announcement of the winner of the tender process in 2022. The selected platform is expected to become operational between 2024 and 2025.
Hanwha Defence delivered the first two Redback IFV prototypes to the Australian Army for testing in July 2020. The third prototype was shipped in December 2020.
In March 2021, the Australian Army received three Redback IFV prototypes, of which two will be used for evaluations and the remaining will be used for blast testing.
The Redback IFVs will also be tested by the ROK Army as part of its efforts to procure a next-generation IFV. The vehicles will undergo through driving tests both on paved and unpaved roads, and tactical field trainings in a series of trials forecasted to be held between April 2022 and June 2022.
The integration of the Iron Fist active protection system (APS) with the Redback IFV was demonstrated in late-2020. Israeli Spike LR2 anti-tank guided missiles were test-fired from the vehicles in early 2021.
AS21 Redback IFV design and features
The Redback IFV is designed to provide improved protection and high mobility, while providing superior crew comfort. It will be integrated with a proven digital battle management system (BMS). The combat weight of the vehicle will be 42t.
The in-arm type hydro-pneumatic suspension unit (ISU) will help in reducing the overall weight of the vehicle when compared to the traditional IFV design.
The armoured vehicle will be manned by three crew members including driver, commander and gunner, while its rear compartment will be capable of accommodating eight dismounted troops.
The vehicle will offer armour protection options from STANAG Levels 2 to 6 and will be equipped with an advanced active protection system (APS) that can defend incoming line-of-sight guided anti-tank missiles/projectiles. The Iron Fist APS equipped with integrated radars and electro-optics will enable the Redback to detect, classify, and counter several threats.
The AS21 Redback IFV will be fitted with EOS T-2000 turret, which offers advanced sensing, engagement and command and control capabilities. The maximum combat weight of the turret will be 6,000kg, which includes weapons, missiles, APS, remote weapon station (RWS), and full ammunition load.
The turret will be armed with a Bushmaster MK44S 30mm cannon, a MAG 58 7.62mm coaxial machine gun, 76mm multi-barrel smoke grenade dischargers and two SPIKE LR2 missile launchers. It can be fitted with EOS R400S Mk2 HD or R150 remote weapon system and Javelin anti-tank guided missiles.
Engine and mobility
The IFV will be powered by an MTU eight-cylinder diesel engine, which generates a power output of 1,000hp.
The power-pack will enable the vehicle to run at a maximum speed of more than 65km/h and attain a maximum range of 520km.
The composite rubber track (CRT) system fitted to the IFV will ensure improved mobility over rough terrains.
Hanwha Defence Australia partnered with Australian space and defence firm Electro Optic Systems (EOS) to bid for the Land 400 Phase 3 programme. EOS is the first-tier subcontractor under the partnership arrangement.
Hanwha collaborated with Shoal Group to finalise the design of the AS21 Redback IFV to meet the Australian Army’s requirements and develop logistics and training system concepts. The Shoal-led team includes more than 30 Australian experts.
Soucy Defence was contracted by Hanwha Defence for the supply of CRT systems for the Redback infantry fighting vehicle.
Elbit Land Systems, a defence electronics company based in Israel, supplies the Iron Fist APS, while Rafael Advanced Defense Systems provides the Spike missile for the IFV. Other contractors in the Redback team include Bisalloy Steels, ECLIPS logistics, Milspec Manufacturing, and CBG Systems.