New Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS)
In a bid to help upgrade the Army's artillery capabilities, the DAPA approved 22 July 2008 a plan to develop an indigenous multiple launch rocket system (MLRS) with a range of 60 kilometers. The new MLRS will replace an aging fleet of 130mm MLRS, having a range of 36 kilometers, that have been operational since 1981, DAPA officials said. The MLRS development and production would cost about 1 trillion won, they said. Mass production will start by 2013.
A total of 73 MLRS are scheduled to be produced under a first phase of mass production that will begin in 2014, the Defense Acquisition Program Administration said. The 154-billion won (US$117 million) development project was approved 17 December 2008 at a meeting of the Defense Acquisition Project Execution Committee, chaired by Defense Minister Lee Sang-hee. "Once the new MLRS are commissioned following a successful development, they will not only greatly improve the Army's artillery power, but will also have a great impact on our economic development through exports," an official from the acquisition agency told reporters. The developer for the new rocket launcher will be named through future biddings, according to the official.
Defense contractor Hanwha should enjoy top-line growth on the development and supply of MLRS and guided weapons. In early 2005, latecomers in an attempt to expand their market shares started a price war in theindustrial explosives business. Despite fierce price competition, new sales of the Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS), caused Hanwha's 2005 sales and operating profit in the explosives division to rise 33.4% and 6% YoY, respectively. For the trading division, as raw materials prices, which skyrocketed in end-2004, lowered, Hanwha's sales and operating profit fell 20.1% and 39.2% YoY, respectively. Since 3Q05, industrial explosive prices displayed signals of a recovery to normal levels. Furthermore, the second contract shipment of the MLRS division started in 2006.
After being designated as a national defense contractor in 1974, Hanwha has established a foundation as a comprehensive national defense contractor by expanding the business scope to include not only the production of general ammunition, such as the mortar bomb, grenade and 130MM / 227MM multiple launcher rocket system, but intelligent ammunition and precision-guided weapons and systems as well.
Hanwha had already produced and deployed 130mm (36-round) MLRS with the Army since the early 1980s. In April, DAPA approved a plan to develop an indigenous 65-kilometer-range 230mm MLRS by 2013 to replace the 130mm MLRS fleet with a range of 36 kilometers and improve the Army's counter-artillery capability against North Korea. Hanwha was in charge of system integration and build guided and non-guided rockets, while Doosan DST will build the launch pad and vehicle.
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