Will ROK Army Restart K30 Bi Ho Production Line?
NEWTOWN, Conn. --- The serial production line of the K30 Bi Ho twin 30mm self-propelled anti-aircraft artillery system is currently dormant.
While the ROK Ministry of National Defense and the prime contractor have released little detailed information concerning the K30 Bi Ho program, research by Forecast International indicates the ROK Army held an initial procurement objective of 150 units. Initial deliveries occurred in 1999; Doosan DST reportedly completed this production run in 2010.
Despite fulfillment of the ROK Army's stated procurement objective for the K30 Bi Ho, the opportunity for additional domestic orders may still exist. The ROK Army procured the K30 Bi Ho to supplement the 520 K263A1 Chungung 20mm Vulcan self-propelled anti-aircraft artillery systems already in service. Given the Republic of Korea's recently renewed emphasis on defense spending, we expect the ROK Army may opt to enhance its short-range air defense capabilities by retiring at least a portion of its older K263A1 Chungung inventory in favor of additional K30 Bi Ho systems.
Although Doosan DST continues to aggressively promote the K30 Bi Ho on the international market, the weapon system has yet to score its first export sale. Malaysia and an unidentified South American nation have reportedly been the only potential customers to express any interest, albeit without any serious commitments from either country to date.
Even the limited amount of technical data available indicates the K30 Bi Ho is clearly a well-designed, capable tactical air defense system. Nevertheless, the Bi Ho suffers in comparison to its closest competitors on the international market. For example, while somewhat less expensive than the Bi Ho, the Russian 2S6 Tunguska offers a combined anti-aircraft gun and surface-to-air missile capability on a comparable tracked chassis.
The Forecast International Weapons Group expects a possible renewal of K30 Bi Ho serial production for ROK Army procurement. Given the lack of definite orders, we do not forecast any production for export at this time. If the Bi Ho cannot successfully compete on the international market, the program may have little future beyond the possibility of future ROK Army follow-on orders.
L/70: A Victim of Its Own Success?
NEWTOWN, Conn. --- The L/60 has been out of production since 1946. The worldwide L/70 production line fell dormant in 2004 with the completion of Indian licensed production. However, the prime contractor (BAE Systems Bofors) maintains the L/70 line for production on an as-needed basis.
In the meantime, the center of gravity for the prime contractor has clearly shifted to the development and marketing of various modernization and retrofit packages for these ubiquitous light anti-aircraft artillery systems. Bofors continues to offer the L/70 Renovation and Modernization upgrade package. The prime contractor can install new components at its facilities, or supply the components in kit form. An extensive range of components are available for integration with the L/70. In addition, a number of contractors worldwide offer upgrade packages for the L/60 and L/70 fire control suites.
To a great extent, the L/70 production line is a victim of the design's own success. The basic design has its roots in the Swedish Navy's requirement for a one-shot- kill anti-aircraft capability in the 1920s. Bofors introduced the 40mm L/60 in 1933. During the Second World War, the L/60 saw service by the thousands with both Allied and Axis forces. In 1951, Bofors introduced its next-generation 40mm anti-aircraft artillery system, the L/70.
Over the past seven decades of active service, the L/60 and L/70 have proven to be robust, reliable, and extremely popular weapons systems. Thousands remain in service worldwide; both systems are readily available on the international market. With the upgrade packages available, the L/60 and L/70 remain viable, point-defense air defense assets.
Although the evolving threat scenarios of the global war on terror no longer envision the tactical air threat of the Cold War, the proliferation of low-level unmanned air vehicles - as well as possible unconventional employment of civil and commercial aircraft - ensures a place for medium-caliber air defense systems.
Indeed, the Republic of China (Taiwan) Army is still considering a possible procurement of the L/70 T92, an indigenous variant of the basic Bofors L/70 ordnance. The ROC Army is reportedly conducting trials of prototype weapons. The ROC Army could procure up to 80 such weapons. If the ROC Army does indeed procure the L/70 T92, the weapons systems will reportedly be of indigenous manufacture, with L/70 barrels.
The large number of existing L/60 and L/70 systems on the international market, combined with the availability of various modernization and retrofit packages, continues to hinder sales of new-production systems. Nevertheless, the prime contractor continues to hold expectations for some level of L/70 export sales.
2S6 Tunguska: Not with a Bang, But a Whimper
NEWTOWN, Conn. --- Very low-rate serial production of the 2S6 Tunguska continues for the Russian Army procurement and for export. Despite recent export sales, the 2S6 program has been limping along at a production rate of less than two systems per month, accomplishing little beyond keeping the production facility active and the workforce employed.
In 2005, the Rosoboronexport organization secured two export orders for the 2S6. In June 2005, reports surfaced that the Moroccan government had placed an order worth about $100 million for 12 2S6 systems. Rosoboronexport completed deliveries for this order in 2008. In December 2005, the Indian Ministry of Defence signed a contract worth $400 million for procurement of 24 additional 2S6M1 systems. These two orders apparently represent the first export sales of the 2S6 since India's initial purchase of 54 systems in 1992.
During a March 2006 visit to Algiers, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a series of arms deals, worth $7.5 billion, with the Algerian government. These deals make Algeria the third largest export customer for Russian arms, following the People's Republic of China and India. Included in these deals is an Algerian order for 30 2S6 systems. Deliveries under these contracts will reportedly occur through this year.
As the unit price of the 2S6 is competitive on the international market, the relative lack of export sales leads one to question the effectiveness of this system. Given the lack of available performance data, the failure to attract significant export sales despite aggressive marketing suggests potential customers continue to find significant faults - real or perceived - in the 2S6 during their evaluations. On the other hand, the wide availability of less expensive ZSU-23-4 systems may simply render the 2S6 unnecessary to potential customers.
In May 2010, reports surfaced that the Indian Army intends to issue a Request for Information to nine international contractors for 104 air defense systems to replace the 70 2S6 Tunguska systems currently in service.
However, without significant new export orders, the remaining Algerian contract may offer the 2S6 program only a temporary reprieve from oblivion. In its current dire economic straits, the Russian Federation simply cannot afford major 2S6 procurement to replace the 3,279 ZSU-23-4s in Russian Army service.
Without a steady base level of Russian Army procurement or significant export sales, the 2S6 program will likely end during the forecast period - not with a bang, but a whimper.