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South Korea advances plan for next-generation amphibious assault vehicle

An early scale model of the KAAV-II on display at ADEX 2019. (Janes/Jon Grevatt)

Seoul has taken further steps to progress the next generation of its indigenously developed Korea Amphibious Assault Vehicle (KAAV) with plans to operationally field the new equipment by 2036.

South Korea's Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) announced on 28 September that the country will allocate about KRW2.1 trillion (USD1.78 billion) towards the programme, referred to by the agency as the ‘Landing Assault Armoured Vehicle-II' project.

The decision was taken at the 139 th meeting of the Defense Project Promotion Committee that was held a day before DAPA's announcement, the agency added.

The new vehicle will be more mobile with better survivability features for its crew.

The Republic of Korea Marine Corps (RoKMC) is estimated to operate a fleet of about 170 KAAV units. The equipment is based on the BAE Systems' AAV7A1 series of armoured vehicles and manufactured in-country by Samsung Techwin (now Hanwha Defense).

The KAAV fleet mainly comprises troop transport variants, referred to as KAAVP7A1s. The service also operates command variants of the vehicle, which it refers to as KAAVC7A1 units, and vehicle recovery variants, which have been designated as KAAVR7A1s.

The vehicles are meant to perform as ship-to-shore connectors for expeditionary forces, augmenting the assault capabilities of vessels such as the Dokdo-class helicopter carrier.

In August 2020 South Korea's Ministry of National Defense confirmed plans to enhance the RoKMC's amphibious capabilities by acquiring additional MUH-1 Marineon helicopters, fast landing craft, and new amphibious assault vehicles.

The plans were disclosed just months after South Korean company Hanwha Defense unveiled a scale model of the KAAV II that it is developing for the RoKMC, with support from the Agency for Defense Development (ADD).

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