Thursday, November 26, 2020

South Korean K2PL may be gaining an edge in Polish competition to replace Soviet-Era tanks

Hyundai Rotem, one of the largest defense contractors in South Korea, has unveiled a model of the K2PL main battle tank, called the Wilk (Wolf), at the MSPO 2020 defense industry show in Poland.

The South Korean company is offering to partner with the Polish government to jointly produce over 800 K2PL main battle tanks to replace Soviet-designed T-72 and PT-91 tanks.

“The official project bidding is expected to be announced in the first half of this year and we definitely will take part in the process. The total project is said to be divided into two stages to produce a total of 800 tanks,” a Hyundai Rotem official said.

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“We’re open to cooperating with Polish companies, such as [the leading state-run group] PGZ. The tank would be produced in Poland, and we would provide Polish plants with our technology,” Lee Han-Soo, a senior manager at Hyundai Rotem’s global defense sales and marketing team, told Defense News at the MSPO defense industry show. “Production of this tank began a few years ago, and our technology is cutting-edge in comparison with our rivals’ products.”

The new version of the K2 tank has an enlarged turret with improved front and side armor, and also lengthened hull with improved side and perhaps front armor, according to the Polish military expert Damian Ratka.

He also added that K2PL’s driver station is in the middle of the hull front. This provides better visibility and easier to get in and get out for the driver. It also most likely means safer ammo storage.

For better protection against threats of rocket-propelled grenades, the rear side of the tank hull is fitted with wire cage armor. An active protection system also is applied to the tank to counter antitank guided missiles (ATGM).

Hyundai Rotem is aiming to bid for the Polish army’s technical modernization project for battle tanks worth $8.85 billion. If the company wins the order later this year, it would be the company’s first-ever export of battle tanks.

Hyundai Rotem officials met with Polish officials several times to explain the specifics of the qualifications and functions of the K2 Black Panther. In 2008, the South Korean company won a bid to sell K2 tanks to the Turkish government beating Germany, one of the world’s leading tank manufacturers.

Earlier reports were that the Polish government partnered with Hyundai Rotem to produce next generation tanks scheduled to be stationed starting 2023. Poland also inked a deal with Hanwha Defense in 2016 to export 120 K-9 self-propelled howitzers.

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