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Armored Cars: Armor Kovico KMPV

October 17, 2021
Via Armor Kovico.

Another South Korean manufacturer is dipping its toes in protected mobility with a new tactical vehicle. Armor Kovico is the defense vertical of a longstanding automotive parts supplier. With decades of experience assembling hulls for trucks and APCs the company has set its sights on an attractive niche–with the full backing of South Korea’s government, of course. The niche being countries who need armored 4×4’s for their internal security. The KMPV was only unveiled in 2020 as a 4×4 transport that can save its passengers from explosions and it has since enjoyed some media exposure in its homeland. Outside South Korea, however, little is known about it.

As with all vehicles in its class the KMPV combines a monocoque hull on a 4×4 chassis with independent suspension. It’s important to point out the KMPV is blast protected but isn’t an MRAP per se. At 12 tons heavy when fully loaded it weighs less than the usual 13-15 tons for contemporary mine-resistant trucks. Furthermore, the bottom of the hull is flat and reinforced although there are noticeable slanted armor plates on its flanks or sides. Armor Kovico ensures the entire vehicle is protected from gunshots up to STANAG II+ and survives the force and shock waves from as much as 6 kilograms of high explosive. When it comes to mobility the KMPV runs on a 270 horsepower turbo diesel engine and has a top speed of 120 kilometers per hour. It climbs a 60% gradient well enough and covers a 30% side slope with ease and water obstacles not deeper than four feet are manageable.

In its original variant the KMPV subscribes to a double cab layout and seats 10 people, six of whom enter from a rear swing door. It’s possible for the same occupants to ride outside the cab by balancing on the steps underneath the cab doors while gripping the handle bars on the sides of the hull. A circular hatch on the roof provides space for observation or a suitable armament. Machine guns remain an enduring favorite for trucks and the KMPV can support all the known calibers. In fact, it has been tested with a remote weapon station mounting an M2 .50 heavy machine gun. An automatic grenade launcher or even a 14.5mm heavy machine gun isn’t hard to install on the KMPV’s roof. The modularity of this vehicle is still up to the imagination; whether it serves as an ambulance or a recovery truck, or whatever role, someday is speculative.

Wheeled armored vehicles have flourished in South Korea because of technology transfers from NATO countries (the locally made Fiat 6614 comes to mind) and the national automotive sector’s overall success. Armor Korico supplies other domestic manufacturers such as Kia with armor panels and even maintains an active production line for the Barracuda/TM 170, which is based on a West German APC, that’s also under the land systems catalog of Hanwha Defense. South Korea’s renewed efforts at exporting its military products abroad no doubt influenced Armor Korico’s development of the KMPV. In late 2020 the ROK Army adopted KMPVs for testing purposes to qualify whether they are competitive internationally. The KMPV doesn’t seem to be a rival of the Kia LTV that has found some success abroad. Because of its size and weight the KMPV’s nearest opponents are commercial pickup trucks that are rebuilt for military use.

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