K2 Black Panther

The K2 Black Panther (Hangul: K2 '흑표'; Hanja: K2 '黑豹') is a next-generation South Korean main battle tank designed by the Agency for Defense Development and manufactured by Hyundai Rotem. Developed as a modern replacement for most of the remaining M48 Patton tanks currently fielded by the South Korean military, the K2 Black Panther combines an auto-loaded 120 mm 55-caliber smoothbore gun, advanced composite armor, extremely high frequency pulse-doppler radar, along with soft and hard-kill active protection systems.

K2 Black Panther
K2 black panther3.jpg
The K2 Black Panther on static display
TypeMain battle tank
Place of originSouth Korea
Service history
In service2014–present
Used bySee Operators
Production history
DesignerAgency for Defense Development
Designed1995–2008
ManufacturerHyundai Rotem
Unit cost7.8 billion (production batch 1)[1]
US$8.5 million (constant 2009 USD)
Produced2008–present
No. builtLot 1: 100
Lot 2: 106[2]
Lot 3: 54[3]
Total: 260
Specifications
Mass55 t (54 long tons; 61 short tons)
LengthOverall: 10.8 m (35 ft 5 in)
Chassis: 7.5 m (24 ft 7 in)
Width3.6 m (11 ft 10 in)
Height2.4 m (7 ft 10 in)
Crew3 (commander, gunner and driver)

ArmorPOSCO MIL-12560H armor steel and Samyang Comtech SiC Grade A, B non oxide ceramic plate along with ERA and NERA modular add-on armor in addition to soft-kill and hard-kill active protection systems
Main
armament
Hyundai WIA CN08 120 mm 55 caliber smoothbore gun (40 rounds)
Secondary
armament
12.7×99mm (.50 BMG) K6 heavy machine gun (3,200 rounds)
7.62×51mm NATO coaxial machine gun (12,000 rounds)
Engine
Power/weight27.2 hp/t (20.28 kW/t)
Transmission
  • Lot 1, 2: RENK HSWL 295 TM (5 forward, 5 reverse gears), dry weight: 2,450 kg
  • Lot 3: SNT Dynamics EST15K (6 forward, 3 reverse gears, in development), dry weight: 2500 kg[5]
SuspensionIn-arm suspension unit (ISU)
Fuel capacity1,296 L (342 U.S. gal)
Operational
range
450 km (280 mi)
Maximum speed Paved road: 70 km/h (43 mph)
Cross country: 50 km/h (31 mph)
Acceleration from 0–32 km/h (0–20 mph) in 7.47 seconds (MT883 Ka-500) or 8.77 seconds (DV27K)

Mass production commenced in 2013 and the first K2s were deployed with the armed forces in July 2014. The K2 costs over US$8.5 million per unit, making it one of the most expensive main battle tanks in service, of any nation.[6][7]

DevelopmentEdit

K2 Black Panther in joint military training

The South Korean government, which developed the K1 (Nicknamed the "88-Tank") and K200 in the 1980s, decided that it had sufficient development capabilities through its experience in operating tanks and armored vehicles, so it planned to introduce new domestic main battle tanks, unlike K1 previously developed through design assistance from Chrysler Defense and General Dynamics Land Systems. The main parts of the K1, which were previously operated by the South Korean military, were produced under the U.S. license, and the U.S. government's export control was a burden on the South Korean government when it attempted to export, so it was also considered important that developing tanks with indigenous technology would be advantageous for overseas exports. Emphasis upon indigenous technologies would also allow the proposed vehicle to enter the export market without licensing difficulties.[8][9]

After the next-generation tank development project was decided in May 1992, the South Korean Agency for Defense Development (ADD) was given the task of developing a modern main battle tank based upon state-of-the-art domestic technology in 1995.[10] The next generation main battle tank to be developed by ADD was named "XK-2," and the main objective of the development project was to secure new main battle tanks to replace the aging M48A3K and M48A5K operated by the South Korean Army, as well as to prepare for North Korea's armored power.[8][9]

From 1995 to 1997, exploratory development was conducted on the concept of tank, including function, performance, shape, and necessary technology, and from 1998 to 2002, development of tank specific design and core technology and parts were conducted to develop 120 mm tank guns, automatic target tracking devices, autoloaders, and operating software.[11][10]

From 2003 to 2007, five vehicles were built to demonstrate technology and performance, named MTR (Mobility Test Rig), FTR (Firepower Test Rig), PV1, PV2, and PV3. MTR and FTR conducted mobility, fire control, combat control, and low temperature operating life tests, while PV1, PV2, and PV3 conducted endurance test, developer test, operator test, and integrated logistics support test. The last prototype was unveiled on 2 March 2007,[10][12] and the development was officially completed after being declared fit for combat by the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) in September 2008. The XK-2 development project, which began in 1995 and ended in 2008, spent a total of 452.6 billion won over 14 years.[13]

The third mass-produced K2, which began in 2022, included an improved Battlefield Management System (BMS) with the Korea Variable Message Format (KVMF), and the Korean Commander's Panoramic Sight (KCPS) and Korean Gunner's Primary Sight (KGPS) with improved resolution and automatic target tracking function.[14][15]

Early design variants included a version with an unmanned turret, which was later scrapped in favor of manned turret designs, and during the initial exploratory development, there was a plan to equip the K2 with the NPzK-140 which is Rheinmetall's experimental 140 mm smoothbore gun, but the plan was canceled because the problem of incomplete combustion of 140 mm ammunition was not resolved and later changed to be equipped with 120 mm 55-caliber smoothbore guns indigenously developed by the Agency for Defense Development and Hyundai WIA.[16]

The CN08 120 mm/L55 of K2 is equipped with a 6.6 m-length barrel that is 1.3 m (4.3 ft) longer than the KM256 120 mm main gun in the K1A1. This results in a higher muzzle velocity of 1,760 m/s (5,800 ft/s) for greater accuracy and armor penetration (compared to 1,700 m/s (5,600 ft/s) for the K1A1).[17] The K2's autoloader also allows it to reload its main gun more quickly compared to its predecessor.

Engines and powertrainsEdit

In March 2011, South Korea's Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) announced that mass production of the K2, which the Army was expecting to deploy in 2012, would not happen due to problems concerning its engine and transmission.[18] In the evaluation test conducted in March 2012, it was reported that the domestic powerpack did not meet the required operational capability (ROC) proposed by the Ministry of National Defense in three categories: cooling fan speed control, maximum power at low temperature, and acceleration performance.[19] In April 2012, DAPA announced that due to ongoing issues with the reliability and durability of the domestically produced powerpack, the first 100 production K2s would use German-made Euro Powerpack and that service entry would be delayed until March 2014.[20] The first 15 K2 Black Panther tanks were put into service in June 2014. Faulty domestic engines and transmissions previously halted production, but the lowering of required acceleration performance allowed it to enter service.[21] Until domestic Doosan Infracore (now Hyundai Doosan Infracore) 1,500 hp engines were produced, the first mass production was employed with a German-made MTU powerpack, which was able to produce 100 vehicles by 2015.[3]

Hyundai Rotem signed a contract from the second batch of 106 K2 tanks in December 2014, but the vehicles continued to have powerpack issues due to the domestic SNT Dynamics transmission failing durability tests. After SNT Dynamics complained about the domestic powerpack test standards, the 107th Defense Acquisition Program Promotion Committee held on November 29, 2017 gave it a opportunity to retest the durability of the transmission, but SNT Dynamics refused to retest the durability of the transmission.[22] In February 2018, DAPA announced the second batch would have a "hybrid" powerpack consisting of the locally developed engine with the German RENK transmission system, allowing them to start entering service in 2019. An additional contract for the production of a third batch of about 110 K2s is to follow within the next several years.[23]

On 25 November 2020, the 131st Defense Acquisition Program Promotion Committee decided to produce tanks in a powerpack that combines domestic engines and German transmissions in the third batch because SNT Dynamics refused to retest the durability of the domestic transmission.[24]

On 6 December 2021, a senior SNT Dynamics official said it solved a technical problem with the transmission defect, and only the Ministry of National Defense's durability test remains in the first half of next year, and the fourth production of the K2 tank will include domestic transmission.[25]

Mass production[2][26][27][28]
Batch Year Engine Transmission Total Notes
I 2014~2015 MTU MT883 Ka-500 4-short stroke, 12-cylinder water-cooled diesel, dry weight: 1,800 kg RENK HSWL 295 TM 5 forward, 5 reverse gears, dry weight: 2,450 kg 100 Domestic powerpack supply was rejected in the first batch plan due to defects and reliability issues.[19][20]
II 2019~2020 Hyundai Doosan Infracore DV27K 4-long stroke, 12-cylinder water-cooled diesel, dry weight: 2,550 kg[4] RENK HSWL 295 TM 106 After SNT Dynamics refused to retest the durability of domestic transmissions,[22] DAPA decided to combine domestic engines with German transmissions to produce tanks.[23]
III 2022~2023 Hyundai Doosan Infracore DV27K SNT Dynamics EST15K 6 forward, 3 reverse gears, dry weight: 2,500 kg[5]
(later changed to RENK HSWL 295 TM)
54 Because SNT Dynamics did not participate in the durability test, the decision was made to keep the German-built one for the third batch.[24] It also includes an improved battlefield management system with the Korea Variable Message Format (KVMF) and improved KCPS and KGPS.[14][15] At the request of the Polish government, 10 of the 54 K2s will be delivered to Poland by the end of 2022 before being deployed to the 9th Armoured Cavalry Brigade of the Polish Land Forces.[29][30]
IV Hyundai Doosan Infracore DV27K 183 On July 27, 2022, Polish Armaments Group (PGZ) and Hyundai Rotem signed a framework agreement to supply 180 K2 tanks to the Polish Land Forces. Due to the signing of the agreement, a review of the production of 183 tanks scheduled for delivery to the South Korean Army has been delayed, and 180 K2 tanks will be delivered to the Polish Land Forces from 2022.[27][28][31][32][33][34]

Weapon systemsEdit

 
K2 Black Panther firing its cannon

The Black Panther is armed with a CN08 120 mm 55 caliber smoothbore gun indigenously developed by Agency for Defense Development and Hyundai WIA.[35][36] This is complemented by a bustle type autoloader, this enables the tank to fire up to 10 rounds per minute.[37][38] The ammunition for the main gun is loaded in a 16-shell magazine. The tank has a total ammunition capacity of 40 rounds for its main armament. The laser barcode identifier of the autoloader recognizes the classification label that has been pre-barcoded on the surface of the ammunition and selects the ammunition (APFSDS or HEAT).[38]

The tank gun and turret are powered by a fully electrical drive system. The Electrical Gun and Turret Drive System (EGTDS) is engineered to provide high efficiency and high precision drive control, and its performance is improved by advanced stabilization. It is also designed to minimize vibration and noise when the turret is driven.[10][39]

Secondary weapons include a 12.7 mm K6 Heavy Machine Gun and a 7.62 mm coaxial machine gun.

Fire-control system and opticsEdit

The K2 is equipped with an advanced fire-control system linked to an Extremely High Frequency (EHF) L-band Pulsed Doppler Radar system deployed on the frontal arc of the turret,[40] along with a raman laser rangefinder and crosswind sensor. The system is capable of a "lock-on" mode, which can acquire and track specific targets up to a range of 9.8 km (6.1 mi) using a thermographic camera.[16][41] This allows the crew to fire accurately while moving as well as engage low-flying aircraft.

The fire-control system is also linked to an advanced gun stabilizer and trigger-delay mechanism to optimize accuracy while moving in uneven terrain. If the trigger on the main gun is pulled at the same time the tank encounters an irregularity in the terrain, oscillation of the gun barrel will cause temporary misalignment between a laser emitter at the top of the barrel and a sensor at the base. This will delay the fire-control system from activating until the beam is re-aligned, improving the chances of hitting the intended target.[38][42]

The Korean Commander's Panoramic Sight (KCPS) and the Korean Gunner's Primary Sight (KGPS) are present in the Black Panther as in the original series of K1A1 tanks, albeit modified to utilize the more advanced sensors and armaments deployed on the K2.[16][41] The K2's Korean Gunner's Primary Sight adopts a thermographic camera that is more advanced than K1A1, and the sight can zoom 15x using optical systems and up to 60x using digital image processors.[43]

The commander of the tank has the ability to override the gunner's command, to take control of the turret and gun. Moreover, unconfirmed reports state that, in the event of an emergency, the vehicle can be operated by only two crew members, or even a single one. It is speculated that the fire-control system can automatically spot and track visible targets, compare them using the data link established with other friendly vehicles to prevent redundant target engagements, and fire its main gun without manual input.

Automatic Target Detection and Tracking System (ATDTS)Edit

K2 has an Automatic Target Detection and Tracking System (ATDTS) controlled by the Automatic Target Recognition (ATR) algorithm.[44][45] When the target is identified as an enemy by the IFF/SIF (Identification Friend or Foe/Selective Identification Feature) system, the turret automatically aims at the target and simultaneously performs laser distance measurements on the target. Even if the tank is maneuvering on irregular terrain or the target is moving, it can lead the target and fire automatically based on ballistic data calculated by the turret mounted laser rangefinder and crosswind sensor.[10][38]

MunitionsEdit

 
K-2 tank on display along with its K280 HEAT-MP-T munition rounds and K6 heavy machine gun rounds

The K2's primary anti-tank munition is an indigenously developed improved tungsten K279 APFSDS-T. For attacking unhardened targets, the K2 can use a multi-purpose K280 HEAT-MP-T chemical energy round, similar to the US M830A1 HEAT MP-T, providing good offensive capabilities against personnel, unarmored and lightly armored vehicles on the ground as well as low-flying helicopters.

The Korean Smart Top-Attack Munition (KSTAM) is a fire-and-forget, top-attack anti-tank munition with an effective operating range of 2–8 km (1.2–5.0 mi), developed specifically for use with the K2. It is launched as a kinetic energy projectile, fired from the main gun in a high trajectory profile comparable to that of a mortar. Upon reaching its designated target area, a parachute deploys, giving on-board millimeter band radar, infrared and radiometer sensors time to seek and acquire stationary or moving targets. When a target is acquired, an explosively formed penetrator is fired from a top-down position, to exploit the weaker top armor of tanks. Target acquisition can also be directed manually by the tank crew via a remote link. These characteristics allow the launch vehicle to remain concealed behind cover while firing successive rounds towards the known location of an enemy, or provide effective indirect fire support against targets hidden behind obstacles and structures.[46][47]

Defensive capabilitiesEdit

 
K2 tanks deploy smoke grenades during maneuver drills.

The K2 possesses a modular armor[48] that combines POSCO MIL-12560H steel[36][49][50] with Samyang Comtech SiC Grade A, B non oxide ceramic plates, and the composite armor was redesigned based on K1A1's Korean Special Armor Plate (KSAP).[51][52] The frontal armor has been claimed to be effective against the 120 mm APFSDS round fired from the L55 gun.[53] Explosive Reactive Armor (ERA) blocks are also present, with the addition of ultra-high hardness and high-hardness armor package and Non-Explosive Reactive Armor (NERA) planned for the K2 Product Improvement Program (PIP) and export variant model.

The turret is equipped with a Radar Warning Receiver (RWR) and Laser Warning Receiver (LWR). When these systems detect a homing radar or homing laser aimed at the tank, the turret instantaneously turns in the direction from which the radar and laser are detected.[54][55]

As another means of protection, smoke grenade launchers that fire K415 smoke grenades are installed on both sides of the turret's front. This smoke grenade is employed to generate the multi-spectral screening smokes effective in the visual and infrared bands.

Inside the tank, a positive pressure and air conditioning system are installed to protect the tank crew from chemical weapon and biological weapon,[56][57] an automatic fire suppression system is programmed to detect and put out any internal fires that may occur, and atmospheric sensors alert the crew if the tank enters a hazardous environment.[58][59][60] In addition, the interior of the tank is installed with a neutron shielding liner made of polyethylene-boron moderator to protect the tank crew from neutron radiation from nuclear explosions.[56][57][59]

VIRSS soft-kill active protection systemEdit

Defense against incoming missiles is provided by a Visual and Infrared Screening Smoke (VIRSS) soft-kill active protection system. The VIRSS provides the self-protection capabilities for the K2 tank to generate the multi-spectral smoke screening capability effective in the visual, forward-looking infrared, and millimeter wave bands.[61] Behind the top of the turret is mounted a smoke grenade launcher capable of firing eight VIRSS grenades to disrupt projectiles approaching the tank,[62] the millimeter wave band radar system mounted on the turret is capable of operating as a Missile Approach Warning System (MAWS).[40] The vehicle's computer in turn can triangulate incoming projectiles, immediately warn the vehicle crew and fire off VIRSS grenades.[63][64][65] The K2 has an RWR and four all-bearing LWRs are present to alert the crew should the vehicle become "painted", and the computer can also deploy VIRSS grenades towards the direction of the beam.[66] Once the hard-kill active protection system is installed, the radar system will also be responsible for tracking and targeting the incoming missiles for the active protection system.

Mobility and maneuverabilityEdit

Demonstrate the mobility of the K2 Black Panther

The K2 can travel at speeds of up to 70 km/h (43 mph) on road surfaces, accelerate from 0 to 32 km/h (0 to 20 mph) within 7.47 seconds (MT883 Ka-500 engine) or 8.77 seconds (DV27K engine),[67][68] and maintain speeds of up to 50 km/h (31 mph) in off-road conditions. It can also climb 60% slopes (31 degrees) and vertical obstacles 1.3 meters in height.[8] Due to the relatively compact design of the engine, the designers were able to fit an additional Farymann & TZEN compact Auxiliary Power Unit (APU)[69] into the remaining compartment space. This is capable of producing 8~10 kW, and intended to act as an auxiliary power unit with which the tank may power its on-board systems when its main engine is turned off. It will also allow the tank to conserve fuel when idling and minimize the vehicle's thermal and acoustic signatures.

The vehicle can cross rivers as deep as 4.1 meters using a snorkel system, which also serves as a conning tower for the tank commander. The system takes approximately 20–30 minutes to prepare.[70][71] The turret becomes watertight while fording, but the chassis can take in 1,900 liters (500 U.S. gal) of water to prevent excessive buoyancy from air inside the vehicle and keep the tracks planted firmly on the ground. Furthermore, the tank can enter combat-ready status as soon as it resurfaces. It is said that K2's predecessor, K1, can cross a river of 2 meter depth after 2 hours of preparation, which also requires assistance from military engineers. However, a K2 tank does not require outside assistance for river crossing.[71][72]

In-arm suspension unit (ISU)Edit

The Black Panther fields an advanced semi-active suspension system, called the in-arm suspension unit (ISU), which allows for individual control of every bogie on the tracks. This posture control function can tilt the chassis or lower the overall height by 40 cm (16 in).[54] This allows the K2 to "sit", "stand" and "kneel", as well as "lean" towards one side or a corner. "Sitting" gives the tank a lower profile and offers superior handling over roads. "Standing" gives the vehicle higher ground clearance for maneuverability over rough terrain.[10] "Kneeling" augments the angular range in which the tank's gun barrel can elevate and depress, allowing the vehicle to fire its main gun downhill as well as engage low-flying aircraft more effectively. Using the suspension system, K2 is able to elevate its main gun up to 24 degrees, which allows a curved trajectory attack at a hovering helicopter target 5 km (3.1 mi) away.[71] The suspension unit also cushions the chassis from vibrations when travelling over uneven terrain, as the bogies can be adjusted individually on-the-fly. The K2 also has advanced track system called Dynamic Track Tension System (DTTS). Maintaining optimum tension through all maneuvers, it dramatically reduces the chance of throwing a track even in the most extreme situations.[39]

Network-centric considerationsEdit

The K2 houses the following features which help to improve situational awareness for the crew:

  • C4I (Command, Control, Communications, Computers, and Intelligence) uplink.[45]
  • GPS (Global Positioning Satellite) uplink.
  • IFF/SIF (Identification Friend or Foe/Selective Identification Feature) system compliant with STANAG 4579.[45] Located on the main gun mantlet, just above the gun, the system fires a 36 GHz beam in the direction of the gun for a response from the targeted vehicle. If a proper response signal is shown by the target, the fire control system automatically identifies it as a friendly.[73][74] If the target fails to respond to the identification signal, it is then declared as a hostile.
  • Battle Management System (Similar to the Inter-Vehicular Information System used in the United States military) allows the vehicle to share its data with friendly units, including other armored vehicles and helicopters.[15][45]

Work is also under way to integrate the experimental autonomous vehicle, unmanned wheeled reconnaissance drone into the Black Panther's systems, giving the tank's crew the ability to scout without disclosing its location.

K2 product improvement program (K2 PIP)Edit

The K2 PIP is an improved version of the initial production model of the K2. Improvements will include:

  • Upgraded armor package made of ultra-high hardness and high-hardness armor steel combining nanotechnology, developed for the K2 export variant.[75][76][77]
  • Upgrading the semi-active in-arm suspension unit to an active in-arm suspension unit.
  • Integration of a high-resolution terrain-scanning system to the vehicle's suspension system. This is purported to allow the vehicle to "plan ahead" by scanning nearby terrain up to 50 meters away in all directions and calculate the optimal position of the bogies in order to improve vehicle handling over uneven terrain.
  • Integration of a hard-kill active protection system.
  • Addition of non-explosive reactive armor.
  • Potentially replacing the 120 mm / L55 gun with an electrothermal-chemical gun, which will significantly increase the vehicle's firepower and potential payload.[78] This plan was cancelled because ADD succeeded in developing a new desensitized propellant.

Korean Active Protection System (KAPS)Edit

The Korean Active Protection System (KAPS) is an indigenously developed hard-kill active protection system designed to protect the K2 from anti-tank threats. It uses a three-dimensional detection and tracking radar and a thermal imager to detect incoming threats.[79][80][81] Warheads can be detected out to 150 meters from the tank, and a defensive rocket is fired to destroy them at 10–15 meters away.[82][83] The system can neutralize rocket-propelled grenades and anti-tank guided missiles. It may be installed on other platforms in the future like warships, helicopters, and buildings. Unit price per system is 670 million ($600,000).[84] Implementation of the KAPS was cancelled in 2014 due to budgetary issues along with the price of a K2 being at 8 billion won, with addition of the KAPS it would increase procurement costs by 1 billion won per unit.[85]

ExportEdit

TurkeyEdit

After competing against the Leclerc and Leopard 2, the K2 established its first export customer in Turkey. In June 2007, South Korea and Turkey successfully negotiated an arms deal contract worth ₩500 billion (approximately $540 million) licensing the tank design of the K2, as well as exporting 40 (+15) KT-1 trainer planes to Turkey.[86] On 29 July 2008, a year after the first negotiations between the South Korean and Turkish governments ended, Hyundai Rotem and Otokar signed a design assistance and technology transfer contract for the Altay tank development project. The contract included design assistance and technology transfer for the systems, 120 mm tank guns and armor packages required for tank development.[87][88][89][90]

South Korean companies involved in the Altay tank development project transferred main parts production technologies and licenses to Otokar, a main developer of Altay tanks, and tank gun subcontractors Mechanical and Chemical Industry Corporation (MKE) and armor package subcontractors Roketsan from January 2009 to 2014. Hyundai Rotem provided design assistance and technology transfer for Altay tank systems to Otokar, Hyundai WIA transferred tank gun production technology to MKE, and Samyang Comtech transferred Configuration design technology for armor plate, Material Processing Technology and Manufacturing & Maintenance Technology to Roketsan.[90][91][92] In addition, ADD and South Korean ammunition manufacturer Poongsan Corporation provided ballistics testing equipment and technical advice to Turkey's National Ballistic Protection Center (now Roketsan Ballistic Protection Center), which was established in October 2010, and conducted Altay's bulletproof performance test with Samyang Comtech.[77][92][93] Later, with design assistance from ADD and Hyundai Rotem, Altay's last prototype was developed in July 2015, and the development project was officially completed in 2016.

On 10 March 2021, BMC, the main contractor responsible for the production of Altay tanks, decided to import engines and transmissions from South Korea to resolve the problem of production delays.[94] On October 22, 2021, seven months after BMC decided to import Korean powerpacks, South Korea's Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) approved the export of Hyundai Doosan Infracore DV27K engines and SNT Dynamics EST15K transmissions to Turkey.[95] Since then, in August 2022, the durability test of the powerpack combined with the DV27K engine and EST15K transmission imported from South Korea is underway, and if the durability test succeeds, the first 250 Altay will be produced by integrating the Korean powerpack.[96]

PolandEdit

 
K2PL

In January 2020 Poland announced negotiations with Hyundai Rotem for license production of the K2 Black Panther for the Polish Army.[97][98]

On 13 June 2022 Polish Ministry of Defence announced that it had signed a memorandum of understanding to purchase at least 180 K2 tanks for the Polish military. The 180 tanks will be produced by Hyundai Rotem in South Korea from 2022 and then supplied to the Polish Army.[99][100]

On 27 July 2022 Polish Armaments Group (PGZ) and Hyundai Rotem signed a framework agreement to supply 180 K2s and 820 K2PLs. The contract includes rapid arms supply and extensive technology transfer from South Korea, and 180 K2s will be produced in South Korea and delivered to Poland from 2022, and 820 K2PLs will be produced in Poland under license from 2026.[31][32][33][34]

On 26 August 2022 the first executive agreement worth $3.37 billion was signed to procure 180 K2s in Morąg, northern Poland. The contract includes training programs, logistics packages, 120 mm and machine gun ammunition for the K2, and soldiers from the 16th Mechanised Division of the Polish Army will be sent to South Korea to participate in the training program in October 2022. The 180 K2 tanks, which will be delivered from 2022 to 2025, will be sequentially deployed to the 9th Armoured Cavalry Brigade, 15th Mechanised Brigade and 20th Mechanised Brigade, which are brigade-class units belonging to the 16th Mechanised Division.[30][101][102][103]

On 7 September 2022 PGZ and Hyundai Rotem signed a partnership agreement to develop and produce tanks, armored vehicles and ground unmanned systems. The contract includes joint cooperation in building production facilities in Poland for the production and maintenance of 1000 K2s and developing next-generation ground combat vehicles, including the K3. In addition, the production facility to be built in Poland will be used as a hub in Europe for the sale and maintenance of Hyundai Rotem's tanks and armored vehicles.[104]

Variants and upgradesEdit

  • XK2 MTR (Mobility Test Rig): Experimental model for mobility tests, with main gun and electronic equipment removed from the turret. Only one was produced.
  • XK2 FTR (Firepower Test Rig): Experimental model for fire control, combat control, and low temperature operation tests. Like the MTR model, only one was produced.
  • XK2 PV (Pilot Vehicle): Experimental model for the technical demonstration test of three XK2s, these vehicles were also called Pilot Vehicles and numbered PV1 through PV3. The main test objectives of these models were endurance tests, developer tests, operator tests, and integrated logistics support tests.
    • XK2: As the last prototype model developed based on the XK2 PV released on 2 March 2007, the development was officially completed in September 2008 after the operational test of the Republic of Korea Army.
  • K2: Mass production variant. Deployed to the Republic of Korea Army starting 1 July 2014.
    • K2 PIP (Product Improvement Program): Improved armor package with ultra-high hardness and high-hardness steel, upgrading the semi-active in-arm suspension unit (ISU) to an active in-arm suspension unit, integration of a high-resolution terrain-scanning system to the vehicle's suspension system. This allow the vehicle to scanning nearby terrain up to 50 meters away in all directions and calculate the optimal position of the enemy in order to improve vehicle handling over rough terrain. The improvement also might include hard-kill active protection system and non-explosive reactive armor.
  • Altay: Export model based on K2 Black Panther, developed by Otokar under the design assistance and technology transfer of Hyundai Rotem. It was redesigned based on K2's system, 120 mm tank gun, and composite armor packages, but the difference from K2 is the longer hull length, seventh pair of road wheels, additional armor of the turret and hull, However unlike the K2, the Hydropneumatic Suspension Unit (HSU) is applied, and there is a lack of extremely high frequency radar system for Radar Warning Receiver (RWR) on the front of the turret, and there is no automatic feeding magazine system for autoloader mechanisms inside the turret. The first batch of 250 units will be produced with Korean powerpacks.[87][88][89][90][96]
  • K2PL: Proposed licensed version of K2 for Polish Armed Forces as a replacement for its aging fleet of T-72 and PT-91 tanks currently in service.[97] The K2PL retains most of the K2's features, such as the CN08 120 mm gun barrel, bustle type autoloader, pulse-doppler radar and In-arm suspension unit (ISU), but it differs from the original version, among others: longer hull length, addition of another, seventh pair of road wheels, ammunition storage isolated from the crew, additional armor of the turret and hull by adding detachable panels of layered armor, and in the case of the drive compartment, a mesh and bar armor, designed to protect against HEAT projectiles.[105] Under the framework agreement between PGZ and Hyundai Rotem on the supply of K2 and K2PL, 820 K2PLs will be produced in Poland under license from 2026.[31][32][33][34][106]
  • K2M (Middle): Proposed licensed version of K2 for export to middle eastern countries. It has an upgraded armor package and 7 road wheels, but unlike the K2, it lacks a Laser Warning Receiver (LWR) on the front of the turret.[107]
  • K2NO: Proposed licensed version of K2 for Norwegian Armed Forces as a replacement for its aging fleet of Leopard 2A4, it is armed with a Trophy hard-kill APS, composite add-on armor, a 12.7mm CROWS, and add-on explosive reactive armor. In addition, preheating devices, battery heating packs, and electric air blow systems have been added to prevent the engine from turning off in Norway's cryogenic environment. The first few tanks will be will be shipped from South Korea while the rest will be built locally, it is competing against the Leopard 2A7 in tank trials.[108]
  • K2 ARV (Armored Recovery Vehicle): Armored recovery vehicle based on the chassis of the K2 with seven road wheels.[109]
  • K2 CEV (Combat Engineer Vehicle): Combat engineer vehicle based on the chassis of the K2 with seven road wheels.[110]

OperatorsEdit

 
Map of operators of K2 Black Panther or its variants

Current operatorsEdit

  South Korea

Future operatorsEdit

  Poland
  • Polish Land Forces – On 27 July 2022, PGZ and Hyundai Rotem signed a framework agreement to supply 180 K2s and 820 K2PLs. According to the agreement, 180 K2s will be supplied from South Korea from 2022, and 820 K2PLs will be produced in Poland from 2026. A total of 1000 tanks will be delivered to Polish Land Forces.[31][32][33][34] On 26 August 2022 the executive agreement was signed to procure K2. A total of 180 K2s will be delivered to the 16th Mechanised Division from 2022 to 2025.[101][102][103]

Potential operatorsEdit

  Egypt
  • During EDEX 2021, the Egyptian Army and government announces negotiations with South Korea to co-produce the K2 Black Panther main battle tank with the transfer of manufacturing technology.[112]
  Norway

Related developmentsEdit

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

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