Artillery vehicle

Industrial deal brings Poland one step closer to acquiring South Korean artillery system

SEOUL — The Polish arms group signed a memorandum of understanding with South Korean firm Hyundai Rotem to develop and manufacture the K2PL tank for the Polish military, at the Eurosatory defense show in Paris this week.

Amid Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine, Poland is accelerating its efforts to acquire South Korean defense equipment, seeking to take advantage of the Asian nation’s mass production capacity and policy. lenient in terms of technology transfers. The NATO member shares a border with Ukraine as well as the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad.

In addition to the K2PL, which is a Polish version of the Black Panther main battle tank in service with the South Korean army, Poland is in talks with Hyundai Rotem to purchase hundreds of K2 Black Panther tanks for its army, according to the government and industry sources familiar with the discussions.

Polish Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak discussed in a June 13 meeting with military leaders his weapons wish list, which includes Korean main battle tanks, self-propelled guns and vehicles infantry combat. The minister had visited the Asian nation in late May to discuss the supply of South Korean combat vehicles and fighter jets.

“Why is Korean equipment proven? Because Korea has the challenge of its northern neighbor, which also pursues an aggressive policy, our task is therefore to provide the Polish armed forces with modern equipment,” Blaszczak said in a press release posted by his ministry. .

Armed with a 120mm/55 caliber smoothbore cannon and an autoloader, the 56-ton K2 Black Panther can fire up to 10 rounds per minute and has active protection systems. The tank is powered by a 1,500 horsepower diesel engine and fully automatic transmission, and it can reach speeds of 70 km/h (44 mph) and can maintain speeds of up to 53 km/h (33 mph) in off-road conditions.

Hyundai Rotem presented a model of the K2PL at Eurosatory. Model photos show that the Polish variant has a larger chassis than the Black Panther and features an additional seventh wheel.

The K9 self-propelled howitzer, developed by Hanwha Defense, is also on Warsaw’s weapon wish list. Poland signed a contract earlier this month to export more than 50 Krab 155mm howitzers to Ukraine, following the delivery of 18 used Krabs to the war-torn country. Polish daily Dziennik Gazeta Prawna reported that the deal is for around 60 howitzers and is valued at around 3 billion zlotys ($700 million).

In 2016, Poland ordered 120 Krabs, based on the K9 Thunder chassis. Huta Stalowa Wola, a subsidiary of the Polish Armaments group, manufactures the Krab by installing the British AS-90M Braveheart turret on the K9 chassis.

A delegation from the Polish army visited the K9 manufacturing plant as well as a unit from the South Korean army operating the artillery systems earlier this month to discuss the purchase of the K9 to to fill the void left by the export of Krabe.

Several options are on the table, including supplying the entire K9 system, delivering the K9 chassis, or exporting a set of K9 howitzers and K10 automatic ammunition resupply vehicles.

“Hanwha Defense has a strong partnership with the Polish defense industry on the successful Krab project,” Hanwha Defense spokesman Jeff Sung told Defense News. He would not comment on the details of talks between Seoul and Warsaw over the emergency supply of K9 howitzers.

The spokesperson noted that nine countries – South Korea, Turkey, Poland, India, Finland, Norway, Estonia, Australia and Egypt – have ordered the K9 howitzer.

The NATO-compatible platform has a firing range of over 40 kilometers (25 miles) with 155mm conventional ammunition. Equipped with an automatic fire control system, the howitzer can fire six rounds per minute continuously for three minutes.

Powered by a 1,000 horsepower diesel engine, the 47-tonne vehicle can travel as fast as 67 km/h. The gun was primarily designed to meet the tactical concept of “shoot and spin” – or shoot at a target, then quickly move to another location to avoid reactive fire.

As for the infantry fighting vehicle, Poland plans to purchase the K21 from Hanwha Defense, which is in service with the South Korean army.

The 25-ton amphibious armored fighting vehicle is equipped with a 40 mm cannon and a coaxial 7.62 mm machine gun, as well as anti-tank guided missiles. It also offers cross-country maneuverability with an in-arm suspension unit and an advanced battlefield management system to share real-time battlefield information.

Poland is also considering the next-generation Redback, which competes for Australia’s LAND 400 Phase 3 program.

Hanwha Defense showcased the Redback heavy infantry fighting vehicle at Eurosatory this week. “In Europe, the Redback has attracted attention following the ongoing conflict in parts of the region, as many European armed forces seek to acquire combat vehicles equipped with state-of-the-art armor protection capabilities against anti- tank weapons and all-terrain maneuverability,” the company said in a June 13 press release.

The 42-ton Redback employs several protective and situational awareness technologies, such as the hard-kill Iron Fist active protection system; the Iron Vision helmet-mounted display; and the Solar Sigma Shield according to the press release. The Redback also adopted a composite rubber track to dampen noise and vibration.

Brian Kim is the South Korean correspondent for Defense News.