Due to the continued threat played by low-flying aircraft over the modern battlefield, every major, well-organized army service fields some form of the "Self-Propelled Anti-Aircraft Gun" (SPAAG) system. For the Republic of Korea Army, this role is fulfilled by the tracked K30 "Biho" ("Flying Tiger"). The vehicle is built atop the existing, proven framework of the K200 "Korean Infantry Fighting Vehicle" (KIFV) detailed elsewhere on this site and saw design work span from 1983 into 1991. Production by Hanwha Defense Systems began in 1996 and has since yielded 176 total units. Service enter did not occur until 1999.
The 25-ton vehicle mates the existing chassis and running gear of the K200 with an electro-optical / radar combination tied to a twin 30mm autocannon configuration. The fire director is the TPS-830K series which incorporates Forward-Looking Infra-Red (FLIR) technology with a thermal sight and laser range-finder. The Fire Control System (FCS) is full-digital giving the K30 good accuracy against moving aerial targets at range. The 30mm S&T KKCB automatic-loading/automatic-firing guns, straddling the turret component over the hull, can be effectively brought to bear against moving land targets as well. The X-Band / pulse-Doppler-based radar system detects aerial targets out to 11 miles giving the crew time to train the dual-cannon arrangement. The cannons fire at a rate of 600 rounds-per-minute to fill a target area in the sky with explosive shells out to a range of 2 miles and each gun is afforded 300 ready-to-fire projectiles.
Externally, the vehicle has a running length of 22.2 feet with a beam of 11 feet and a height of 13.35 feet (to the radar). Internally, there is a crew of four. The armament (including radar) sits at the turret sides and the turret proper is seated over the center of the hull roof. The driver maintains a position in the forward part of the hull. At least two banks of six smoke grenade dischargers are carried to allow the vehicle to produce a self-screening effect as needed.
The track-and-wheel arrangement sees six double-tired road wheels to a hull side with the drive sprocket at front and the track idler at rear. Due to the added combat weight of the K30 vehicle when compared to the in-service K200 KIFVs, the K30 sees an extra roadwheel added to each hull side. The vehicles are also powered by the MAN-Doosan D2840L series diesel unit of 520 horsepower output (over the original D2848T of 350 horsepower) and this is mated to an S&T Dynamics HMPT500-3EK/4EK gearbox (instead of the Allison X200-5K). The vehicle sits atop a torsion bar suspension system for good cross-country mobility, showcases a road speed of 37 miles-per-hour and can travel out to 310 miles on internal fuel.
In late-2013 it was announced that the K30 was to receive the installation of 2 x Twin-tubed "Shingung short-ranged Surface-to-Air Missiles (SAMs) (for a total of four missiles) to the existing turret to broaden the tactical value of the K30 fleet. Service entry was expected sometime in 2018.
September 2018 - An improved version of the K30 Biho was announced as the "Biho II". It utilizes the chassis of the 6x6 wheeled Tigon Armored Personnel Carrier (APC) jointly-developed between South Korea and Malaysia and launched in 2018.
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