|A self-propelled anti-aircraft weapon Hybrid Biho, right, developed by Hanwha Defense in cooperation with LIG Nex1, is displayed at Association of the United States Army exhibition held in Washington, in Oct. 2017. / Courtesy of Hanwha Defense|
By Kim Jae-heun
Top Korean defense firms said they will join "DEFEXPO INDIA 2020" next month to attract buyers in India, the world's second-largest market for the defense industry. Hanwha Defense, Korea Aerospace Industries Ltd. (KAI), and LIG Nex1, along with seven more companies, are participating in Asia's biggest defense industry expo scheduled to be held in Uttar Pradesh, India, from Feb. 5 to 8.
The leading South Korean defense companies said they will display products specially designed for the local defense environment as part of plans for larger penetration in countries in Southeast East Asia, which have higher growth potential.
At the exhibition, Hanwha Defense is aiming to win about 3 trillion won ($2.5 billion) worth of deals for orders of Hybrid Biho-branded weapons from the Indian government. It is a self-propelled anti-aircraft weapon that can effectively shoot down helicopters and small planes like drones flying at a low altitude, Hanwha said. Hanwha joined with LIG Nex1 to develop the weapon.
"We are planning to showcase Hybrid Biho at the exhibition for the first time to impress the Indian army officials," said a Hanwha Defense official, Monday. "We hope it gets recognition for its excellent quality and brings a positive effect to the delayed contract process."
In October 2018, the Indian defense ministry selected the Korean artillery as the sole candidate for acquisition, but a defense firm in Russia raised objections over the qualification of the weapon testing process and requested a re-evaluation of their anti-aircraft defense system. India's Defense Acquisition Committee (DAC) is expected to review the contract documents and make the decision this month, a report said.
Hanwha Defense is already in cooperative relations with the Indian army as it won the bid to obtain an order of 100 self-propelled artilleries named K9 Thunder. However, Russia may be able to intercept the possible deal as Moscow is India's biggest weapons trading partner, whose products constitute 62 percent of overall imported arms, according to Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.
The KAI is focusing on promoting its basic training aircraft the KT-1.
"Currently, the Indian air force is changing its basic trainers and we want to supply our planes there," a KAI official said. "We will showcase the FA-05, a light attack aircraft, and Korean Utility Helicopter named Surion too, but the KT-1 will be our main item at DEFEXPO 2020."
Meanwhile, over 700 firms from 30 countries around the world will establish booths to show off their weapons at DEFEXPO this year.