DefExpo22- Hanwha Interview

DefExpo22- Hanwha Interview

Mon, 10/17/2022 - 07:35
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Hanwha will not hesitate to use the eco system developed in India

Hanwha Defense is making giant strides across the global winning orders from the major western countries including members of Europe Union, Australia and even USA. On eve of DefExpo, IDI caught up with Rupesh Kuchhal, Head Defence Business, Hanwha Defense India and discussed variety of topics, some excerpts.

On latest developments related to the K9 SPH

Rupesh Kuchhal - Hanwha Defense has been developing K9 SPH based on customer demands and market trend. We are planning for K9A2 on mid-term and K9A3 with long term. The key feature of K9A2 is a fully automated ammunition loading system and an increased rate of fire of nine rounds per minute, with the reduction of crew numbers from five to three. The key feature of K9A3 is unmanned maneuvers without crew. 

The world’s most proven artillery system the K9 Thunder Self-Propelled Howitzer (SPH) over 1,700 units already in service with nine countries, has been in the spotlight this year in various events like Association of the US Army (AUSA), DVD2022 exhibition in UK etc. In UK, we're actively marketing K9A2 with a fully automatic ammunition handling system, while the K9A1 and K10 have successfully demonstrated their capability and compatibility with US munitions.

South Korea’s leading defence company Hanwha Defense Co.—through its US subsidiary Hanwha Defense USA—and the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Armaments Center (DEVCOM AC), successfully proved the compatibility of the K9 Thunder Self Propelled Howitzer (SPH) and K10 Ammunition Resupply Vehicle (ARV) with a variety of US munitions. The live-fire demonstration took place at Yuma Proving Ground, Arizona, where Hanwha’s artillery solutions —K9A1 SPH and K10 ARV—loaded and fired different types of U.S. ammunition, including 155mm M795 projectiles, XM1113 Rocket Assisted Projectiles (RAP), and Modular Artillery Charge System (MACS) charges. The demonstration consisted of three major events—automated resupply of U.S. projectiles by the K10 ARV; firing of M795 projectiles to demonstrate K9A1’s capabilities of Shoot-and-Scoot, Burst Fire, and Rapid Rate of Fire capabilities; and lastly, firing of XM1113 RAP from the K9A1 SPH.

Very recently Polish Government and Republic of Korea signed a framework agreement to supply 672 K9A1 and K9PL, followed by an executive contract of $2.4 billion was signed to acquire 212 K9A1s manufactured by Hanwha Defense as a first batch order. 

On orders in India

RK - The previous contract of 100 guns was already delivered by our partner L&T ahead of schedule. Now we understand that Army is set to order 100 more K9 Vajra Tracked Self-Propelled Howitzer for their deployment at the borders, with the plan to eventually have 300 of these guns.

Hanwha Defense is going to aggressively support our partner L&T for the smooth and timely execution of these guns to Indian Army.

On export of K-9 Vajra from India

RK - Hanwha and L&T are always in discussions for the “possible” exports of K9 Vajra from India. L&T is already working on exploration of certain countries with support from Indian Government. Details of the countries being explored by L&T cannot be shared due to confidentiality.

On Indian companies as part of its global supply chain for K-9

RK- Hanwha has a large supply chain globally for K9 SPH. Most of the customers are requesting for the local production of these guns and to have local eco systems like in India. Whenever & wherever possible, Hanwha will not hesitate to use the eco system developed in India.

On partnership with L&T

RK - L&T is our strategic partner for India market, and we hope to expand our business with L&T through cooperating with new program like “Hybrid Biho” Self-Propelled Air Defense Gun Missile System, “K10” Ammunition Resupply Vehicle for K9 SPH, Futuristic IFVs and other land system programs etc.

On Hybrid Biho air defence system 

RK - Hanwha has already offered ‘Hybrid Biho’ for the Indian Army RFP for SPADGMS (Self-Propelled Air Defense Gun Missile System) program in Year 2013 and ‘Hybrid Biho’ is the only qualified product after trial evaluation by Indian Army.

We have been waiting to be invited for commercial negotiations for quite some time. We have plans to execute this SPADGMS program also with same business model as K9 SPH by manufacturing, assembly, integration and delivery to Indian Army from our Indian Partner L&T factory in India. We will enhance the eco system in India which was established thru K9 SPH program and contribute to employment generation in India.

Despite the program currently under 'Buy Global" category, Hanwha is committed to support PM Modi's vision for 'Atmanirbhar Bharat' by executing the program with 'Make in India' philosophy. Hanwha has demonstrated the same in the past with K9 Vajra-T program. 

With Hanwha experience, it is not necessary to execute 'Make in India' by only issuing a fresh RFP with different category. Even the on-going 'Buy Global' RFP is also possible to be executed under 'Make in India' without retracting the RFP, which saves the time, money & efforts gone into the procurement for past several years to meet Indian armed forces critical requirements. 

Hanwha Defense is willing to discuss with Indian Ministry of Defense to demonstrate once again our capability for such execution by manufacturing of all required no. of SPADGMS system in India with our proven Indian Partner Larsen & Toubro (L&T), which is in line with PM Modi's vision for "no imports but manufacture in India".

On developing next generation infantry fighting vehicles

RK- Hanwha Defense has developed the world best IFV "Redback" which is an advanced Infantry Fighting Vehicle (IFV) and was shortlisted as one of the two contenders for the Australian Army’s LAND 400 Phase 3 IFV program. 

We believe the Redback is an optimal choice for the Indian Army, as the fifth generation IFV provides the excellent combat capability, superior mobility and complete protection against ballistic, mine and chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear (CBRN) threats. 

On latest trends in land warfare that Hanwha Defence observes 

RK - Hanwha Defense has been investing for core technology like unmanned, Artificial Intelligence, future power source like hydrogen, Li-ion and Hybrid. Based on such core technology, we are developing our land system products.  

On offerings related to Unmanned Ground Vehicles

RK - We have a wide variety of unmanned solutions, including the multi-purpose “Intelligent UGV” for infantry troops; the Unmanned Surveillance Vehicle for mechanized troops; the Explosive Ordnance Detection and Disposal (EODD) Robot; and the Remote-Controlled Weapon Station (RCWS).

Hanwha Defense-developed ‘Arion-SMET’ unmanned ground vehicle selected to be tested by the U.S. DoD for the Foreign Comparative Test (FCT) program - The 2-ton 6x6 Arion-SMET features futuristic technologies including remoted-controlled and autonomous maneuvers; tethered follow-me move; remoted controlled weapons station - The Arion-SMET is optimized for manned and unmanned teaming (MUM-T) tactical operations for infantry troops. The Arion-SMET is an acronym of Autonomous and Robotic systems for Intelligence Off-road Navigation – Small Multi-purpose Equipment Transport. The South Korean Army successfully operated the ARION-SMET last year to trial the vehicle’s tactical operational capability.

We are ready to introduce in India market as the relevant business opportunities emerge.