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Hanwha chief calls for defense unit to spur growth overseas

May 21, 2024 - 14:34 By Kim Hae-yeon
Hanwha Group Chairman Kim Seung-yeon (second from left) is briefed on key defense products produced at Hanwha Aerospace's Changwon plant Monday. On Kim's left is his eldest son and head of Hanwha Aerospace’s strategic division. (Hanwha Group)

Hanwha Group Chairman Kim Seung-yeon on Monday urged the group’s space business and defense arm Hanwha Aerospace to increase efforts to expand its presence in the global defense market.

"We need to tirelessly work on securing future orders for Romania's K-9 project, in order to expand our share in the European market and extend our global market reach to North America," the chairman was quoted as saying during his visit to the company’s Changwon plant.

It was Kim's first visit to the plant since Hanwha Aerospace was relaunched as a merged unit of the group’s defense and aerospace businesses in April last year.

The Hanwha chief, accompanied by his eldest son and head of Hanwha Aerospace’s strategic division, toured the production site of K21 infantry fighting vehicles, as well as K-9 self-propelled howitzers, Redback armored vehicles and Cheonmu launchers, which are used in nine countries and hold over 60 percent of the global market share.

At the site, Kim encouraged employees who had contributed to Redback's export to Australia to take pride in their achievements in securing a foothold in a leading defense market.

Industry sources interpret the chairman's frequent visits to the group’s business operations in recent weeks as a clear sign of what the group sees as its key business pillars -- aerospace, defense and energy.

"Korea's defense business was previously limited to South Korean military partners, which restricted its revenue potential due to operating profit caps," an official from the defense industry here said on condition of anonymity.

"However, the K-9 self-propelled howitzer has been receiving excellent reviews in international markets recently. Along with the group's 900 billion won-investment in Hanwha Aerospace, Kim's frequent involvement in these operations underscores Hanwha's commitment to expanding its presence in the defense sector," the official added.