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(LEAD) S. Korea develops wheeled armored combat vehicles for infantry troops

All News 15:29 June 07, 2016

(ATTN: UPDATES with more info in para 1-8)

SEOUL, June 7 (Yonhap) -- South Korea has developed new wheeled armored combat vehicles that can greatly enhance the mobility and striking power of its infantry troops, the defense acquisition agency said Tuesday.

The Defense Acquisition Program Administration’s (DAPA) wheeled armored vehicle project, undertaken by Hyundai Rotem since 2012, has been successfully completed, the DAPA said in a statement. It said the locally built vehicles passed their final qualification test on May 9.

The project was aimed at improving the mobility, survivability and hitting power of front-line and rear-area infantry troops as the military's reorganization plan has enlarged their mission areas, the agency noted.

Two armored combat vehicles, the K808 and K806, were developed under the project. The K808 is designed for speedy troop deployment and reconnaissance missions in front-line areas, including mountainous regions, while the K806 is intended for use in mobile strike and reconnaissance missions in the rear.

In the past, South Korean infantry units had relatively restricted areas of operation because they did not have a sufficient number of all-terrain armored vehicles. This shortage also exposed them to the risk of attack from the North when on the move, according to the statement.

Currently, the South Korean military is operating the K200 and K21 tracked infantry combat armored vehicles, which are slower in speed compared with their wheeled counterparts.

A DAPA official said mass production will start this month to produce some 600 units of the new vehicles by 2023. "Deployment to troops will start next year," the official added.

With a 430-horsepower engine, the vehicles can reach speeds of up to 100 kilometers per hour, according to the DAPA.

"The new wheeled armored vehicles, equipped with cutting-edge technologies, can move swiftly on the ground as well as cross water obstacles, carry heavy firepower and protect the troops inside from enemy machine gun attacks that will enormously increase infantry units' operability," the statement also said.

The new vehicles could later be adapted to carry 30 millimeter anti-aircraft guns and be used as wheeled combat command centers, DAPA pointed out. The agency said the new armored vehicles may find an export market, since they enjoy a price advantage and are more capable vehicles overall than those currently on the market.

"The success of the project has allowed the military to field a new weapon system that could carry out various operations in city and rear areas and meet the challenges of future battlefields like United Nations peacekeeping missions," Park Jin, a DAPA official in charge of combat vehicles, said. "This will dramatically contribute to boosting our military's strength."


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