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South Korea defence company Hanwha Aerospace has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Widad Business Group, a Malaysian investment firm, to co-operate on bidding for the Malaysian Army’s multiple rocket launcher (MRL) acquisition project.

The non-binding agreement was signed on 6 May 2024 between Tan Sri Dato Muhammad lkmal Opat Abdullah, chairman of Widad Business Group, and Go Sang-hwe, executive vice president of Hanwha Aerospace and general manager of Hanwha Aerospace’s Daejeon Plant, at the Defence Services Asia (DSA) Exhibition and Conference 2024 in Kuala Lumpur. Among other attendees were Malaysian Defence Minister Dato’ Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin; Minister Seok Jong-gun of South Korea’s Defense Acquisition Program Administration; Malaysian Chief of Armed Forces General Tan Sri Muhammad Ab Rahman; and Malaysian Chief of Army General Tan Sri Dato’ Muhammad Hafizuddeain Jantan.

“I am very impressed by Hanwha’s excellent track record of delivering fantastic defence solutions to many countries around the world,” said Muhammad lkmal. “With their ambition, innovation and their drive to be the very best in the world, I believe we have found an immense partner to further grow our business in the defence sector. I look forward to the fruits of this partnership in the years to come.”

Go added, “Hanwha Aerospace is committed to actively presenting ways to enhance the military capabilities of Malaysia based on the MoU signed today. Furthermore, we pledge to foster collaboration with relevant authorities, ensuring that our efforts in the defence sector pave the way for mutual advancement and prosperity in the future.”

The Malaysian Army is looking to acquire advanced MRLs and other support vehicles by 2026 to replace its ageing fleet of 36 Astros II systems produced in Brazil, with the final proposals from bidders to be submitted in the second quarter of 2025.

The K239 Chunmoo MRL is in service with several nations, including South Korea, Poland, and some other nations in the Middle East. It can be loaded with two different types of rocket pods at once, while each K239 launch vehicle is escorted by an ammunition support vehicle, carrying four reload pods.

The K239 MRL can fire several kinds of munitions, including 130 mm and 239 mm rockets with a range of 36 km and 80 km respectively. It can also launch a CTM-290 290 mm ballistic missile with a maximum range of 290 km. The CTM-290 missile has also been successfully test-launched from a Polish Homar-K MRL at a state-run test site in South Korea. The Homar-K features a K239 launcher that is carried by a Polish Jelcz 882.57 8×8 truck chassis.

Hanwha Aerospace is joining forces with Malaysia’s Widad Business Group to pitch its K239 Chunmoo system for the Malaysian Army’s MRL requirement. (Image: Hanwha Aerospace)