South Korea’s military has come a long way. Even in the 1980s, that country was relying on a lot of older Americas designs, like the F-5E Tiger and the M-48 main battle tank. Today, though, that country builds its own weapon systems – and they are very capable.
One of those is the K21 infantry fighting vehicle, which is replacing South Korea’s stock of K200 infantry fighting vehicles – which are, in essence, M113s with a turret. South Korea built over 2,300 K200 vehicles, in varieties ranging from NBC reconnaissance to and some were exported to Malaysia. They had a crew of three and carried nine grunts.
According to a handout provided by Hanwha Defense Systems at the Association of the United States Army expo in Washington, D.C., the K21 has a 40mm gun as its main armament, with a 7.62mm machine gun mounted coaxially, with the option of adding an anti-tank missile. The IFV can also carry nine grunts and has a crew of three.
The K21 is capable of reaching a top speed of 43.5 miles per hour, can go just under 280 miles between fill-ups, and can overcome a 31.5-inch obstacle. It can hold just over 198 gallons of fuel for its engine.
The K21 matches up well against a modern infantry fighting vehicle like the Russian BMP-3. That should be a surprise – South Korea acquired a number of BMP-3s and T-80s in the 1990s and 2000s. Russia reportedly wants to buy back those vehicles.
The K21 will likely be serving for a long time. South Korea plans to buy at least 466 of these vehicles. But there is no telling who else may want to buy some. Hanwha has also developed a medium tank version with a 105mm gun, and a recovery vehicle with a 27-ton winch.