The Australian Government has officially signed a contract with Hanwha Defense Australia (HDA) for the delivery and support of the AS21 Redback Infantry Fighting Vehicles (IFVs). This decision comes as a part of the LAND 400 Phase 3 – Land Combat Vehicle System project, aimed at bolstering the Australian Army’s capabilities in mounted close combat operations.
Replacing the Old Guard
The Redback is set to replace the aging M113 Armoured Personnel Carriers, which have been in service since the 1960s. The new IFVs are expected to provide enhanced protection, mobility, and lethality, effectively countering current and emerging threats in various operating environments.
The Land 400 Contract at a Glance
The project’s overall value stands at around $7 billion, marking it as the most substantial investment in the Army’s capabilities ever made. The acquisition of the 129 IFVs and the initial support contracts together amount to about $4.5 billion.
Timeline and Deliverables
Vehicle deliveries are scheduled to begin in 2027, with the entire fleet expected to be delivered by 2028. The contract also includes the development and delivery of training and support system components until Final Acceptance in 2029. An initial support contract covering the first five years post-delivery is already in place.
A Strategic Partnership
This contract symbolizes a growing relationship between Australia and South Korea, with HDA playing a pivotal role. To execute the LAND 400 Phase 3 program and maintain the fleet over the next three decades, significant technology, intellectual property and expertise will be shifted from partners in South Korea and Israel to Australia. This transfer will greatly benefit the industrial sector across the nation.
The AS21 Redback
In terms of design and features, the Redback IFV is engineered to offer improved protection and high mobility, while ensuring superior crew comfort. It integrates a digital battle management system (BMS) and boasts a combat weight of 42 tons. The vehicle’s hydro-pneumatic suspension unit contributes to a reduced overall weight compared to traditional IFV designs. It accommodates three crew members (driver, commander, and gunner) and can carry eight dismounted troops in its rear compartment.
The Redback offers various armor protection levels (STANAG Levels 2 to 6) and is equipped with an advanced active protection system (APS) capable of defending against line-of-sight guided anti-tank missiles/projectiles. The vehicle’s armament includes an EOS T-2000 turret, a Bushmaster MK44S 30mm cannon, a MAG 58 7.62mm coaxial machine gun, and two SPIKE LR2 missile launchers. Powered by an MTU eight-cylinder diesel engine, the Redback can reach speeds over 65km/h and has a maximum range of 520km.