The 155 mm K9 Thunder self-propelled howitzers are an eloquent example of South Korea's entry into the Romanian market.
In February this year, Romania signed a Memorandum of Understanding for industrial cooperation between the national company Romarm S.A. and South Korean giant Hanwha Aerospace. The Memorandum, which of course has no legal value but is more a first step towards a future contractual agreement, covers not only the production of powders but also South Korean ground systems.
It's the K9 Thunder howitzers, where the South Koreans have the first chance in the programme that the Ministry of National Defence (MApN) will start this year. But the South Korean "target" in Romania is not only howitzers and powder, but also infantry fighting machines.
Redback combat vehicle to be proposed by Hanwha to replace aging MLI-84 ''Jderul''
Redback Infantry Fighting Vehicle (IFV). Foto: Hanwha Aerospace via Korean Blog @Facebook
Romania recently increased its defence budget to 2.5% in the context of Russia's border war against Ukraine. A major armament programme to be launched this year by MApN is the purchase of infantry fighting machines.
Phase I of the programme envisages the purchase of 246 complete MLIs, including training simulators and initial logistical support. The phase will start in 2023 and run for 9 years until 2031. The estimated value of procurement contracts in Phase I is €2.545 billion.
For Phase II it is envisaged to procure 52 MLI completions for strategic and operational stockpiles, starting after 2031. The estimated value of procurement contracts in this phase is €450 million.
The Asia-Pacific Defence Reporter (APDR) recently published a piece analysing the European "targets" of the South Korean giant Hanwha Aerospace. And our country is in the 'front line'. The South Koreans are interested in Romania's MLI programme and will compete with the Redback fighter, developed by Hanwha and Elbit Systems. The Redback was developed for Australia's Land 400 programme in cooperation with local industry.
South Korea is also actively involved in Poland's armament programmes, which will be equipped with South Korean K9 Thunder howitzers, K2 Panther tanks or FA-50 fighter jets. Competition for the Romanian infantry fighting machine is expected to be fierce.
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