SEOUL — The South Korean Army will deploy 600 wheeled armored vehicles from 2016 to help build rapid-response forces modeled after U.S. Stryker combat brigades, according to the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA).
The arms agency announced Hyundai Rotem, a subsidiary of Hyundai Motor Group, as the preferred bidder Nov. 26 to develop and produce those wheeled armored vehicles. The company beat a consortium of Samsung Techwin and Doosan DST.
“Hyundai Rotem will develop a couple of prototype vehicles with six and eight wheels by 2015 with investment of about 28 billion won ($26 million),” a DAPA spokesman said. “After field tests, the company will produce 600 vehicles in stages by 2020.”
The DAPA and Hyundai Rotem will sign a final contract in December for the wheeled armored vehicle development, said the spokesman.
The Army expects the wheeled combat vehicle to improve its ability to deploy rapidly with enhanced tactical mobility.
“With the number of infantry troops being reduced under a defense reform plan, we should cover wider combat zones with better survivability and striking capability,” an Army official said. “We believe the deployment of wheeled infantry carrier vehicles will help solve this problem, to an extent.”
Under a military modernization program announced in 2005, the South Korean Army plans to deploy high-tech tanks and armored vehicles that boost firepower and battlefield mobility while reducing force strength.
The service will cut more than 20 of its 47 infantry divisions and turn many of the remaining ones into mechanized units.