Because of its shared border with unpredictable North Korea, the South Korean military has had to remain in a state of readiness since the close of the Korean War (1950-1953) - no treaty was signed, only an armistice to end the fighting has existed. As such, its Army has long had to invest in modernization and procurement programs to head off any attempt by the North to invade. For many years, the American M113 Armored Personnel Carrier (APC) remained the backbone of the Army's ability to haul troops to and from battlefronts and this ultimately led to work during the early 1980s to replace the aging stock with a more modern alternative - though still based on the M113 to an extent. Thus set the stage for what was to become the K200 KIFV ("Korean Infantry Fighting Vehicle").
Designed by the Agency for Defense Development, the vehicle was manufactured to the tune of 2,383 examples through Daewoo Heavy Industries (Doosan Group) from 1985 until 2006. The vehicle retained many of the design lines, field capabilities, and general versatility of the classic M113 but instituted particular changes to suit the South Korean Army requirement. The powerplant became a German MAN series diesel (manufactured locally, under license) and the automatic transmission system used British-originated gears. The vehicle was suspended atop a torsion bar arrangement for the needed off-road travel qualities. The base crew numbered three with passenger seating for up to nine combat-ready troops. Primary entry/exit was through a large powered door at the rear of the hull which also doubled as the loading ramp. With the door and passenger compartment set aft, the engine was positioned at front-right in the hull - leaving the driver to sit at front-left. Standard armament became a 12.7mm heavy machine gun for local air and light armor defense (the gun position protected in a shield arrangement. Secondary armament included a 7.62mm machine gun to contend with enemy infantry. A bank of six electrically-operated smoke grenade dischargers was mounted over the bow and allowed the crew to generate their own protective smoke screen as needed.
Road speeds reached 70 kmh with an operational range out to 480 kilometers. Fully amphibious, the vehicle could make headway through water sources at 6 kmh.
Original production models were known simply as K200. Then followed the K216 NBC (Nuclear-Biological-Chemical) platform with specialized equipment aboard. The K221 was a dedicated smoke-generating variant and the K242 a 4.2" mortar carrier. The K255 was a proposed ammunition resupply model intended to serve the Army's fleet of 155mm Self-Propelled Artillery (SPA) vehicles. The K263 "Cheongoong" fitted a 20mm KM167A1 minigun (license-produced M167 "Vulcan") for the air-defense role. The K277 served as a command post vehicle with extra equipment and the K281 became another mortar carrier, this time fielding an 81mm system. The K288 was an Armored Recover Vehicle (ARV) form.
Eventually, Daewoo returned to the Army with an upgraded model in the K200A1. This introduced a more powerful MAN-Doosan D2848T engine of 350 horsepower mated to an Allison Transmission X200-5K gearbox. An improved (automatic) fire protection system was installed as was a revised NBC kit. The K242A1 became the 4.2" mortar carrier while K263A1 was the 20mm air defense model - the latter later improved to the K263A1 standard and, later, to the K263A3 standard. The K281A1 was the 81mm mortar carrier and the K288A1 the ARV form.
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Hanwha Defense Systems (Daewoo Heavy Industries / Doosan Group) - South Korea Manufacturer(s)
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