Wednesday, November 14, 2012

South Korea to Develop 'Small-Sized Tactical Vehicle'

Korea's HMM-V
One of the main U.S. fighting vehicles is the Humvee – a highly capable four-wheel drive semi-armored truck developed by AM General. The vehicle, which transports troops on the battlefield while protecting them from bullets, took over the role of the Jeep, which became famous during the Korean War.

The Korean Ministry of Defense has now announced through the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) that it is to develop a small-sized next generation tactical vehicle in conjunction with Kia Motors. A DAPA spokesman – 46-year-old Kim - was quick to point out that the 'Small-Sized Tactical Vehicle' (SSTV) would not be a close copy of the Humvee or in any way infringe on AM General's intellectual property. "This will carry a Kia badge," explained Kim "and it will be a next-generation vehicle, whereas the Humvee is last-generation." Sources say the SSTV is likely to also feature an exciting new front grill design in contrast to the Humvee's plain vertical-slat arrangement, in addition to slightly sharper corners, and it will run the Android operating system.

The formal name of the SSTV has yet to be decided, but DARPA said it may be called the Korean Highly Mobile Military-Vehicle, or KHMM-V.

The SSTV will be Korea's second attempt to produce a multi-purpose small tactical vehicle in Korea after the Hyundai Accent, which has seen extensive combat experience on the streets of Seoul. Kia plans to develop it to meet the pressing needs of the modern military, such as fight commanding, armored reconnaissance patrols, close maintenance support, artillery observation, and cigarette and whore runs.

DAPA has said it will spend 21.6 billion won ($19.8 million) developing the vehicle, but this has led to criticism from some who say that a Humvee costs just $70,000 in comparison, and it would therefore be so much cheaper to buy the latter that the military could even afford to buy 282 AM General Humvees for the price of the Kia SSTV. However, DARPA pointed out that a direct comparison can't be made because the Humvee doesn't incorporate digital multimedia broadcasting (DMB) technology to enable soldiers to watch TV while they are driving.

But the controversy over the cost of the SSTV is likely to intensify after the U.S. Army announced a competition to replace its 18,500 Humvees starting in 2015 with a 'Joint Light Tactical Vehicle' (JLTV), which it is believed will also incorporate DMB-TV technology. Critics say the Korean military should wait and buy the JLTV when it is developed, or even buy the U.S. Military's humvees from it when they are replaced at heavily discounted prices, and then fit DMB-TVs to them as an add-on - which would be cheaper.

DAPA is unmoved by the attacks though, suggesting that two versions of the SSTV may eventually be built at a cost of 45 billion won – bulletproof and non-bulletproof, which will be assigned to soldiers based on age and family connections.

Related Links
South Korea to develop small-sized tactical vehicle
Steep cost of military vehicles outlined in Army report
$5 Billion Competition on to Replace Humvee
Korea to slap fines for watching TV while driving

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