SEOUL – The South Korean Army will use European amphibious bridge vehicles in licensed production to improve their operational capability over water hazards.
According to sources from the Defense Acquisition Program Administration, the M3 Amphibious Rig developed by General Dynamics European Land Systems will be manufactured on site by the main contractor Hanwha Defense.
The order is worth around 460 million US dollars and provides for the production of around 100 M3 vehicles for use from 2023.
Hyundai Rotem lost the offer with the offer of the OTTER Armored Amphibious Assault Bridge, which is to be developed by the Turkish FNSS.
The defense acquisition program administration is set to officially announce the award of the contract to Hanwha Defense in the coming weeks, sources said Defense News on Dec. 30.
“The M3 is the world’s best amphibious rig, with proven records for mobility, loading capacity, maneuverability, and more,” an industry source, aware of the acquisition efforts, told Defense News on condition of anonymity. “The European bridge vehicle is to be produced locally as an M3K variant in order to be adapted to the operational needs of the South Korean armed forces.”
South Korea will be the sixth country to operate the M3 after Germany, Great Britain, Taiwan, Singapore and Indonesia. The amphibious bridges have been used successfully in numerous Allied operations and maneuvers as well as in extreme climates. During the NATO exercise Anakonda 2016 in Poland, engineers from the German and British armies teamed up to assemble the longest 350-meter floating bridge with 30 M3 amphibious vehicles in less than 35 minutes.
The M3 was first manufactured by Eisenwerke Kaiserslautern in Germany and is a self-driving all-wheel drive vehicle that can be used to project tanks and other vehicles over water hazards. It can be driven into a river and used as a ferry or, if a row is joined from bank to bank, it can be used as a bridge. Used as a bridge or as a multi-bay raft, the M3 can carry loads up to MLC 85. (MLC stands for Military Load Classification, a measurement of load capacity.)
The M3 has four ramps for connecting one vehicle to another. Eight M3 rigs can bridge a 100-meter-long water gap that is strong enough to support more than 70 tanks. Alternatively, two rigs can be linked together to create a ferry that can carry a similar load across much wider crevices.
Powered by a 400 horsepower diesel engine, the 28-tonne M3 can travel up to 80 km / h on land, while the top speed on the water is 14 km / h. It has a range of 750 kilometers.
The M3 is very mobile in order to minimize the impact of the company premises and to blend in with any landscape.