S. Korea's Hanwha group signs joint defense research agreement with US military

By Lim Chang-won Posted : December 16, 2020, 10:00 Updated : December 16, 2020, 10:00

[Courtesy of Hanwha Defense]

SEOUL -- South Korea's Hanwha Group has sealed a meaningful agreement with the U.S. military to conduct joint research and development of defense equipment and technologies. Hanwha is the first Korean enterprise to enter into such an agreement with the US Army.

The agreement underlines Hanwha's push to position itself as a competitive defense firm in the global market. The defense group has sold military equipment abroad, including its K-9 self-propelled howitzer which is one of South Korea's best-selling ground weapons. It is also involved in key defense projects at home.

The group said that its two defense business affiliates -- Hanwha Corporation and Hanwha Defense -- signed the Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) on December 10 with the US Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Armaments Center (DEVCOM AC), which is the US Army's primary research and development arm for armament and munitions systems.

The agreement is a cooperative mechanism that enables a US government activity to work with academia, industry, and other non-government entities on research and development. "This is a historic and exciting opportunity," Bernard Champoux, a retired U.S. Army lieutenant general who heads Hanwha's US defense operations, said in a statement on December 16. He said the agreement acknowledged the quality of South Korea's growing defense sector.

Both parties shared their interest in jointly developing capabilities for U.S. and international military markets, with potential commercial spin-off applications, Hanwha said, adding they would exchange resources, technical expertise and intellectual properties for the development of next-generation weapon and ammunition solutions.

Hanwha Corporation is recognized for explosives propellants and advanced precision-guided munitions. Hanwha Defense's K-9 self-propelled howitzer has been shipped to Turkey, India, Poland, Norway, Finland and Estonia. In September, Hanwha Defense was picked as the sole preferred bidder for an Australian artillery gun procurement project to supply 30 K-9s and 15 K-10 armored vehicles for ammunition resupply.

Hanwha's AS21 Redback infantry fighting vehicle has been shortlisted as a candidate for an Australian military project to replace old armored personnel carriers. The AS21 Redback, which is the advanced version of Hanwha's K21, is competing with the Lynx developed by Rheinmetall Landsysteme of Germany. The winner will be selected in 2021 after a year's trial and evaluation.

Hanwha has developed the AS21 Redback to meet future warfare requirements with enhanced protection, firepower and performance. The 42-ton AS21 Redback can carry up to 11 people at a maximum speed of more than 65 kilometers (40 miles) per hour.
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