In yet another example of India’s ‘Look East’ policy, the Indian Government has revealed that it will purchase 104 K-30 BiHo Short Range Mobile Anti-Aircraft defense systems along with 97 ammunition carriers and 39 command vehicles from South Korea. Built by Hanhwo Defence Systems, this latest addition will operate as a mobile air shield for the newly-developed Integrated Battle Group concept.
According to reports, an Integrated Battle Group, or an IBG, will comprise of a hybrid force consisting of tanks, anti-tank guns, self-propelled artillery, armored personnel carriers, helicopters, supporting infantry and a highly mobile air-defense cordon.
During the 60s, it was possible to detect and destroy anti-armor threats such as helicopters and attack aircraft with gun-based anti-air artillery systems. Now, helicopters like the AH-1Z Cobra operated by Pakistan are just one among many threats that the Army faces. The others include drones, surface-to-surface missiles, cruise missiles, anti-radiation missiles, standoff weapons, light anti-tank vehicles, and so on.
To counter such a fluid environment, the Indian Army needed to purchase a mobile gun and missile platform that could defend an armored column from any air threat while keeping up with the rest of the forces. You see, firing an S-400 or a Barak-8 against multiple low-flying aerial threats would be too expensive, which is why a high-mobility vehicle with quick-reaction, short-range anti-air systems is needed.
That is where the K-30 BiHo comes in. And here’s all you need to know about this latest weapon system in our arsenal:
- Development of the K-30 started in the 90s, with the gun-only system being inducted into the Republic of Korea forces in 1999, and the gun+missile system being developed in 2013
- The hybrid gun and missile system was deployed in 2018
- South Korea operates 176 such units
- It costs $12.1 million per unit (INR 8.56 crores)
- It weighs 25 tons, is 22.2 feet long, 13.34 feet tall and 11 feet wide
- The K-30 is operated by a crew of four
- The BiHo is powered by a 520 hp diesel engine built by MAN-Doosan, which gives it a top speed of 60kph and a maximum range of 500km
- The vehicle rides a K200 chassis
- Road movement is provided by six dual light metal and rubber road wheels, with a drive sprocket in the front, idler at the rear and four track-return rollers on either side
- The K-30 was chosen over a three-vehicle contest that included the Tunguska M1 and the Pantsir-S1, both offered by Russia
- In spite of the Russians offering vehicles with a higher rate of fire (1000+ rpm per gun for the Tunguska M1) and more missiles (12 in the Pantsir), the K-30 was chosen because it was best suited to operate within the confines of the Integrated Battle Group doctrine of the Indian Army
12. The X-band radar in the K-30 is called the TPS-830K, which is a surveillance and a fire control radar of the Pulse-Doppler type
13. The K-30 fire control radar can operate in the 8–12 GigaHertz range, which gives it excellent range and sensitive, as a result of which it can detect targets with a 22 square-foot radar cross-section at a range of 17km
14. The “BiHo” can operate in temperatures ranging from -32 degrees to 50 degrees Celsius
15. The surveillance system also includes an L-band (1–2 GHz) radar, an IFF (Identification Friend Or Foe) system, and has features such as pulse compression, frequency agility, adaptive moving target indication, multiple target selection, real-time early-warning, and anti-chaff detection.
16. In case the radar is jammed, the K-30 also has an electro-optical targeting system, which uses extremely sensitive cameras to detect and track targets during the day, and when combined with Forward Looking Infrared systems (FLIR), night operations can also be conducted.
17. The EOTS (Electro-Optical Tracking System) has a tracking range of 7km
18. The K-30 comes with a laser range finder, something seen only in frontline battle tanks
19. The Flying Tiger is one of the most effective shields against aircraft flying a Nap Of the Earth pattern, or an NOE pattern, where they fly as close to the earth as possible to evade radar detection
20. The anti-aircraft vehicle features a 30-mm gun and the LIG NX1 Chiron missile
21. The gun, which is why the vehicle is called the ‘Bi-Ho’ has two barrels, a maximum range of 3km and a maximum twin-barrelled firing rate of 1200 rounds per minute
22. The solid fuel-propelled Chiron missile also called the Shingung Man-Portable Air Defense System has a maximum range of 7km, a maximum speed of Mach 2.36 and is said to be superior to the Stinger missile
23. The LIG NX1(Chiron) missile resembles the French Mistral missile and is equipped with an integrated IFF system, all-weather capabilities, an infrared+ultraviolet seeker and a proximity-fuse warhead
24. The missiles are bow-mounted in pods next to the gun barrels
25. All this resulted in a 90% single-shot hit ratio during tests
26. The K-30 will be used alongside the T-90s, the BMP-2s, and the new K-9 Vajra self-propelled artillery vehicles
27. This system is proposed to be deployed along the Indo-Pak border as part of a five-brigade mechanized combat team
28. 4928 missiles and 172, 260 rounds of 30-mm ammunition will also be delivered as part of the deal
29. Hanhwa has already tied up with Larsen and Toubro to build 100 K-9 Vajra self-propelled guns, and chances are that the K-30 may also be manufactured in India if a transfer of technology agreement is finalized
30. This is a wholly-Korean product
According to a Korean daily, Russian arms manufacturers are extremely displeased with this development and have requested India to reconsider, saying that the tests were inadequate.
India, on the other hand, seems to be taking baby steps to wean itself off of Russian weapons. The most inspiring part of this deal is the possibility of a Transfer Of Technology clause, as that will save a lot of money and give the DRDO a chance to compete with the world’s best.