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Hanwha Defense plots course to become US ‘prime contractor' by 2031

Hanwha Defense displayed its K9A1 Thunder self-propelled howitzer at AUSA 2021 in Washington, DC. (Ashley Roque/Janes)

Hanwha Defense is using the US Army's revamped M2 Bradley infantry fighting vehicle replacement competition to expand its footprint inside the country.

John Kelly, the president and CEO of Hanwha Defense USA, recently detailed evolving plans to make the South Korean company a prime contractor for Pentagon ground combat vehicle programmes by 2031.

“Within 10 years or so we want to be able to offer the same sort of capabilities as existing land systems prime contractors here,” Kelly said during a 12 October interview. “We have the product suite to do that already, we now have to build that capability in the United States [and] it's not going to be an export model.”

To date, the company has joined an Oshkosh Defense-led consortium — a team that also includes Pratt Miller Defense, Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, QinetiQ, and Plasan — for a 15-month optionally manned fighting vehicle (OMFV) concept design phase for the army. The team is currently using Hanwha's Redback infantry fighting vehicle chassis as a starting point for the design work, along with a turret ‘based' on Rafael's Samson family.

“We're not selling the Australian vehicle here, you've got to start from somewhere,” Kelly said. “The [OMFV] will undoubtedly be a different size, it will have a different turret on, survivability requirements will be different, [and] the… command-and-control requirements will undoubtedly be different.”

As the company moves ahead on the OMFV team, it is also seeking other companies to partner up with for different ventures, as well as other entry points into the US market.

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