Korea calls for closer defence industry ties with Australia


South Korean legislators have called for closer cooperation on defence industry in a session at the ROK National Assembly attended by Australia’s ambassador to Korea Catherine Raper and Labor MP Jerome Laxale.

Professor Kim Woosang, Professor of Political Science and Diplomacy at Yonsei University in Seoul, called for the establishment of a robust defense, industry and security framework between the two countries modelled on arrangements between Japan and allies including Australia.

South Korea is Australia’s third largest trading partner, with Hanwha Defense Australia already building an advanced armoured vehicle production facility in Geelong, Victoria to build self-propelled howitzers for the Australian Defence Force under the LAND 8116 programme.

The facility includes a 32,000-square-meter manufacturing plant, a 1.5-kilometer-long test-driving track, a firing range, EMI testing chamber, and an R&D centre.

The Director of International Policy at South Korea’s Ministry of National Defense Lee Seung-beom said: “Since the signing of the AS9 SPH contract with Australia in 2021, construction of a Korean-invested production facility is underway.

“This is the first time overseas defence production base has been built solely by a Korean company outside of the country.

“We can achieve many things with this local production facility for Australia, such as technology transfer, continuous job creation, joint international marketing, and securing stable supply chains to support the defence capabilities of both nations.”

Seung-beom said further deepening of ties should Australia select Hanwha’s Redback Infantry Fighting Vehicles (IFVs, pictured) to replace the M113AS4 fleet IFVs would be a huge win for both countries.

“This facility is expected to serve as a cornerstone for upgrading the bilateral partnership to a strategic alliance in another level.”

The M113s are being replaced in the Land 400 Phase 3 programme, an $18 to $27 billion project.

The AS21 Redback Infantry Fighting Vehicle (IFV) will become a technological base for the South Korean Army’s next-generation IFV, as an option to purchase Redback IFVs from an Australian production facility remains viable, says DAPA’s Deputy Minister Cho Hyun-ki, responsible for the acquisition of South Korean Army’s land defence systems.

Cho said: “Redback technologies will be the core part of the development of the Korean version of next-generation IFV.

“When bilateral cooperation in the defense industry is moving forward further with Australia’s introduction of Redback IFVs, the ROK Army can possibly acquire the Redback vehicles as part of urgent capability acquisition programs.”

Hanwha’s Team Redback bidding for the programme includes a number of Australian defence suppliers including Electro Optic Systems, Milspec, Bisalloy, Marand and CBG Systems.

Key equipment includes the Electro Optic Systems’ remote weapon station which can be fitted with a range of weapons including 7.62mm machine gun, .50 calibre machine and an automatic grenade launcher, and the Solar Sigma Shield technology from Tasmania’s CBG Systems.

Picture: Hanwha Defense Australia’s Redback IFV

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