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K300 K-21 NIFV - Next Infantry Fight Vehicle

Production of the KIFV is complete and more recently the company has developed to the prototype stage the Next Infantry Fighting Vehicle (NIFV). Unlike the K200 infantry transport armored vehicle [a battle taxi], the K21 infantry fighting vehicle is literally the infantry fighting vehicle (IFV) that introduced the concept of "transport for infantry troops with combat capability". It features 20% lighter weight and 50% lower price competitiveness than other countries. The K21 IFV has achieved a high localization rate and is expanding the line-up into 105mm turret loaded medium tanks and medium recovery vehicle. It is the top-of-the-line armored fighting vehicle with excellent performance.

The replacement for the South Korean K200-series infantry fighting vehicles, formerly designated as K300 or XK21 KNIFV (Korea Next-generation Infantry Fighting Vehicle), is currently called the K21. The on-vehicle control computer provides night and day vehicle information and battlefield information to the driver and crew while moving. The battlefield management system is capable of sharing battlefield information in real time with friendly forces.

The 25-ton K2 infantry fighting vehicle (IFV), jointly developed by the ADD and Doosan Infracore, has a 750-horsepower turbo-diesel engine and 40mm auto cannon capable of shooting down helicopters and slow-moving aircraft. It can engage in C4I warfare using digital communication, GPS receivers and inter-vehicle digital links. The armored vehicle can travel as fast as 70 kilometers per hour on paved roads and cross a river at a speed of 7.8 kilometers per hour with the help of the Water Jet propulsion system.

Korea completed development of the Army's next-generation infantry fighting vehicle in 2007. The Agency for Defense Development held a ceremony on 27 June 2007 to mark the completion of the weapons development. The vehicle, named Next Infantry Fight Vehicle, had won a successful evaluation that it is compatible with the Army's demand for combat operational capability. The NIFV has been under development since 1999, using Korea's indigenous technology. The ADD and domestic defense producers, including Doosan Infracore Co., have participated in the 91-billion-won ($96 million) development project.

The first two test units of the vehicle rolled out in 2005, and the Army and ADD have tested them to upgrade the capability. The 25-ton NIFV is armed with a mounted, stabilized 40-millimeter gun, a 7.63-mm machine gun and an anti-tank guided missile launcher. The two-man turret armored vehicle can shoot down slow-moving helicopters and aircraft with the guided missiles. The NIFV is able to carry a total of nine infantry soldiers and three vehicle crews and can travel at a maximum speed of 70 kilometers per hour. It can also operate amphibious missions.

On 30 October 2008 Doosan Infracore reported that it signed a contract with DAPA (Defense Acquisition Program Administration) for the first supply of 457.8 billion won's worth of K21 IFVs (Infantry Fighting Vehicles) known as having the most formidable combat capability in the world. Under the contract, Doosan Infracore is to supply the K21 IFVs manufactured via the pure Korean technology for deployment in first-line troops, starting 2009. The armored vehicle can travel as fast as 70 kilometers per hour on paved roads and cross a river at a speed of 7.8 kilometers per hour with the help of the Water Jet propulsion system. About 900 K21s will be deployed in stages beginning in 2009.

The K21 IFVs are produced to reinforce the Korean Army's combat capability. One weighs 25 tons and carries an infantry squad, in addition to the three crew members. The 25-ton K21 IFV, jointly developed by the ADD and Doosan Infracore, has a 750-horsepower turbo-diesel engine. Speed: up to 70 km/h on ground and up to 7 km/h on water. Particularly, it has been equipped with a 40mm automatic gun and a 7.62mm machine gun, and will be mounted with a Korean-made anti-tank missile of the third-generation class. Thus it is known as the world's most formidable IFV that can hit enemy helicopters and tanks, let alone IFVs.

K21 has the NCW (network centric warfare) capabilities: a precision sighting telescope that can be used even at night or while moving; a shooting control device; an enemy threat warning system that maximizes the survival rate by automatically detecting the threat of enemy firearms; an IFF (Identification, Friend or Foe); a digitalized command/communication system that helps share battlefield information with friends in linkage with the ground tactic C41.

It is claimed that the K21 is superior to American-made M2A3 or Russian-made BMP-3 known as the world's most formidable IFVs in terms of firepower, survivability, battlefield management capability and maneuverability. Doosan Infracore Defense Products BG Head Um Hang-suk said, "K21 boasts superior performance, compared to others produced by more advanced countries in the same category. It also offers price competitiveness. Thus, we plan to push ahead with exports to the Middle East, Southeast Asia and Latin America."

Doosan Infracore has secured stable amounts of products by retaining the defense products orders (worth about 1,700 billion won) with the signing of the supply contract for K21, in addition to the second supply contract for 30mm self-propelled anti-aircraft gun named Biho signed at the end of 2006.

K21 was developed with the investment of a total of 91 billion won from 1999 with the participation of 11 domestic defense products businesses, including Doosan, and the Agency for Defense Development (ADD). Three trial products made in early 2005 have gone through the process of technological and operational evaluation and opened to the public after being judged to be proper for combat operations in May 2007. Two prototypes of the 25-ton vehicle were unveiled to the public during a ceremony at the ADD General Test Site in Anheung, South Chungcheong Province on 29 June 2007. More than 700 people from the defense industry and government were in attendance, including Defense Minister Kim Jang-soo, ROK Army Chief of Staff Park Heung-ryul, and Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) Commissioner Lee Sun-hi.

After hearing a developmental progress report on the 8-year R&D project, the participants watched a live demonstration of the K21's capabilities and viewed an exhibition of core parts developed during the project. The K21 prototypes demonstrated superb maneuverability, including the ability to rotate 360 degrees while standing in place. The test-firing of their 40mm cannon and 7.62mm coaxial machine gun, and the launching of its practice-round missiles drew applause from the spectators.

The K21 is a new version of the K200 armored vehicle, used mainly to transport troops. Unlike the K200, the K21 is designed for an infantry fighting role. As such, it is armed with a 40mm cannon and antitank guided missiles, and has the firepower to destroy enemy helicopters, tanks and armored vehicles. Advanced laser and heat sensors warn of imminent attack, maximizing the survivability of the crew. It can access the C4I ground tactics system, using digital communication and GPS systems to share battlefield information with other friendly IFVs. Officials expect the K21 to greatly augment the fighting capability of the Republic of Korea (ROK) military. It will also allow ROK forces to adapt to the battle field environments of the future.

The W91 billion (about US$97 million) K21 R&D project was begun in 1999. Korea's Agency for Defense Development (ADD), in partnership with 11 domestic defense contractors led by Doosan Infracore, developed the K21, a high-tech amphibious infantry-fighting vehicle. Three prototypes were produced in 2005, and they passed extensive operative and test evaluations by ADD. The K21 has been developed exclusively with domestic technology. It has been proven superior to similar IFVs manufactured in other countries, and officials are confident that it will become a highly successful export product.

Critical flaws in the design of the K21 amphibious infantry fighting vehicle were found following an investigation of the vehicle, one of which sank during a river-crossing exercise 29 July 2010. This was the second time that a K21 has sunk since the vehicle entered service after 10 years of development. According to investigators, a pump in the vehicle doesn't work at its maximum river crossing speed of 7.8 kilometers per hour.

The K21 Infantry Fighting Vehicle (IFV) entered operational service with the Army in late November 2009. A fully-equipped K21 cost about 4 billion won ($3.4 million) cheaper than the U.S.-built Bradely and Germany's Puma IFV, whose per-unit prices are estimated between $4 million and $4.5 million. Doosan will produce a total of 166 units under the first phase contract. Under the Defense Reform 2020 initative, the Army plans to acquire a total of 466 K21 vehicles. The Army had originally planned to deploy 900 NIFVs to improve its agility and firepower. As of November 2010 it was reported that the Army planned to acquire "some 500 K-21s" by 2015.




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