Military and Strategic Journal
Issued by the Directorate of Morale Guidance at the General Command of the Armed Forces
United Arab Emirates
Founded in August 1971


AS21 Redback IFV: Iron Sight, Lethal Bite

The Albanese Government’s US$2.4 billion contract with Hanwha Defense Australia for 129 AS21 Redback infantry fighting vehicles (IFVs) signifies a pivotal move in Australia’s military transformation. 
The contract is a significant component of the broader LAND 400 Phase 3 project, valued between $5 billion and $7 billion. This initiative represents one of the most substantial capability acquisitions in the history of the Australian Army. 
These IFVs, set to replace the M113 armoured personnel carriers from 1964, emphasise advanced features like advanced armour, cannons, and missile systems, ensuring superior protection, mobility, and firepower for soldiers engaged in close combat.
Beyond bolstering Australia’s defence capabilities, this contract highlights South Korea’s rising prowess in the global arms market, showcasing its technical expertise and large-scale manufacturing capabilities. 
Manufacturing the Redback IFVs in Australia is poised to generate up to 600 direct jobs and over a 1,000 positions within the Australian defence supply chain. 
In essence, this strategic agreement not only signifies a technological leap for the Australian Army but also underscores a proactive step towards self-reliance in producing critical defence equipment domestically, reducing reliance on foreign suppliers while fortifying the nation’s security and supporting its soldiers.
Armoured Precision
The AS21 Redback stands as a heavily armoured, well-armed IFV, potentially ranking among the most protected globally at 42 tonnes, classified as a heavy IFV. 
Its armour, developed with Plasan, comprises lightweight aluminium and strategic fibreglass elements derived from the K21 KNIFV platform, enabling agility, fuel efficiency (up to 65 km/h), and comprehensive 30 mm armour-piercing round protection.
With one-piece rubber tracks, it navigates challenging terrain with improved shock absorption, enhanced mobility during manoeuvres, and reduced noise and vibration compared to metal-linked tracks. 
Engineered to withstand mine blasts equivalent to 10 kg of TNT under the hull or tracks, the Redback ensures crew and passenger safety with blast energy-absorbing seats.
The crew compartment hosts three — driver, commander, and gunner — while eight dismounted soldiers occupy the rear troop area. Troop deployment is facilitated by the rear power-operated ramp with integral doors, ensuring efficient ingress and egress. 
Two-man Turret 
AS21 Redback IFV features a two-man turret housing the EOS T-2000, a formidable system delivering superior firepower and situational awareness. 
Weighing a maximum of 6,000 kg, this turret is armed with a 30 mm Mk44S Bushmaster II automatic cannon, a weapon employed across various military assets globally, from Singapore’s Hunter IFVs to the US Lockheed AC-130 gunship and Zumwalt-class destroyers. Using 30x173 mm ammunition shared by 19 nations, including NATO members, ensures foundational interoperability between Australia and its defence partners.
The main gun unleashes devastating firepower against infantry and lightly armoured vehicles, boasting diverse ammunition types, including programmable airburst munitions and proximity fused rounds. 
Impressively, the cannon can easily transition to a 40 mm calibre by replacing just three parts, sans modifications to the turret.
Augmenting its arsenal, the Redback incorporates a coaxial 7.62 mm machine gun and a remotely-controlled weapon station featuring the MAG 58 7.62mm coaxial machine gun. Further tactical capabilities emerge from the 76mm multi-barrel smoke grenade dischargers, creating concealment for manoeuvring.
Enhancing anti-tank capabilities, the Redback houses two SPIKE LR2 missile launchers, each capable of launching anti-tank guided missiles with a range of 5.5 km and penetrate over 900 mm of steel armour. These missiles retract into the turret when not in use.
For escalated firepower needs, optional Remote Weapon Stations (RWS) like the EOS R400S Mk2 HD or R150 can be integrated, while the integration of Javelin anti-tank guided missiles amplifies anti-armour capabilities, ensuring adaptability and enhanced combat readiness. 
Iron Vision System 
AS21 Redback IFV boasts a comprehensive suite of sensors and situational awareness systems designed to provide the crew with an accurate picture of the battlefield. It has an advanced Iron Vision situational awareness system with helmet slaved system which allows the crew to see through the armour.
Visual Sensors include panoramic cameras mounted around the turret and hull; these provide 362° real-time views of the surroundings, displayed on commander and gunner screens.  
The driver’s camera enhances visibility in low-light conditions or when obstacles block the direct line of sight. Thermal imagers are integrated with the main gun and RWS, and these allow target acquisition and engagement even in complete darkness or smoke.
The Elbit Iron Vision System combines panoramic cameras, thermal imagers, and laser rangefinders, offering a comprehensive battlefield display. It overlays vital data-friendly positions, enemy locations and potential threats — streamlining crew decision-making.
A digital battle management system (BMS) connects the Redback to the battlefield network, facilitating real-time information sharing for enhanced situational awareness and tactical coordination.
Integrated vehicle health and performance monitoring ensure continuous surveillance, alerting the crew to potential issues promptly.
Supplementing these features are additional sensors: a Laser warning system detecting incoming threats, Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical (NBC) detection for hazardous elements, and a GPS/INS combo for precise positioning even in GPS-deprived areas.
The Redback IFV’s sensor suite and situational awareness systems create a comprehensive battlefield picture, enabling swift and effective responses to threats or opportunities. The integrated and fused sensor system ensures a more accurate overview while maintaining user-friendly interfaces, allowing crews to concentrate on tasks without overwhelming information. Its adaptable architecture permits future upgrades and integration of new sensors and systems. 
Robust Engine
The vehicle’s engine is the robust MTU America MT881 Ka-500, driving this 42-tonne machine with remarkable agility and speed. 
This eight-cylinder diesel engine generates a formidable 1,000 horsepower, propelling the Redback to a top speed of 65 km/h while maintaining commendable fuel efficiency considering its size.
The engine’s torquey nature delivers excellent acceleration and climbing capability, allowing the Redback to navigate challenging terrain effortlessly. It’s paired with an Alison transmission, known for its dependability and smooth operation under demanding conditions.
Despite its power, the MT881 is remarkably fuel-efficient for its class. This is partly due to its modern design and the lightweight aluminium construction of the Redback. The engine is water-cooled, ensuring optimal performance even in hot climates. 
It features innovative emission control systems, reducing its environmental impact. The engine compartment is well-protected, minimising the risk of damage from enemy fire. The Redback boasts a cruising range of approximately 520 kilometres, allowing it to operate effectively during extended missions.
The MT881 is a proven engine with a long track record of reliability in harsh environments. Its modular design and easily accessible components make it easy to maintain and repair in the field, minimising downtime.
Overall, the MT881 Ka-500 engine is a key factor in its effectiveness as a modern IFV. 
Plasan Composite Armour
The Redback’s core defence lies in its advanced Plasan composite armour, delivering a robust shield against diverse threats. It thwarts ballistic threats from small arms fire, heavy machine guns, larger-calibre weapons, anti-tank rockets, missiles, mine blasts, and Improvised explosive device (IED) explosions.
Integrated with Israeli Elbit’s Iron Fist active protection system, the Redback swiftly detects and neutralises incoming rockets and missiles. Employing both soft-kill (jamming or decoying threats) and hard-kill measures (interceptors), it fortifies defence layers. The mine blast-resistant hull enhances resilience against landmines and IEDs, mitigating catastrophic damage.
The Mine Blast-Resistant Hull is specifically designed to withstand the impact of landmines and IEDs, reducing the risk of catastrophic damage and injuries.
In case of a fire, the Automatic Fire Suppression System activates to suppress flames and protect the crew and vehicle. 
The Redback features a NBC protection system to safeguard the crew from these threats. The vehicle’s design and materials incorporate features to reduce its thermal, acoustic, and visual signatures, making it harder to detect and target on the battlefield.
Crew safety and comfort are prioritised through ergonomic workstations and a meticulously designed crew compartment. It offers comfortable, well-protected seating, including blast-absorbing seats that minimise injury risks during mine blasts. Multiple emergency escape routes ensure crew safety. 
The inner walls of the crew compartment are lined with a spall liner, further reducing the risk of injury from fragments and debris generated by incoming projectiles.
The modular nature of the armour allows for customisation based on mission requirements and threat levels. Additional armour plates can be attached to enhance protection in specific areas.
In summary, the Redback IFV’s all-encompassing protection suite ensures exceptional survivability for its crew and passengers, solidifying its status as an indomitable force on the modern battlefield.

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