The official ceremony was held on December 6 to celebrate the arrival of K9PLs, with the attendance of Polish Government leaders including President Andrzej Duda and Defence Minister Mariusz Blaszczak. Among the South Korean participants were Minister Eom Dong-hwan of the Defense Acquisition Program Administration; Deputy Minister Yoo Dong-joon of the Ministry of National Defens; Son Jaeil, President and CEO of Hanwha Aerospace; and Executive Vice President Lee Boo-hwan of Hanwha Aerospace's Business in Europe.
"The handover of K9PLs is a key milestone in the development of partnership between Hanwha Aerospace and the Government of Poland," said Lee Boo-hwan, head of Hanwha Aerospace's European business, as quoted in the company release. "Meeting the requirements of the Polish Armed Forces is our top priority, and we're proud of having produced and delivered the best-quality equipment to Poland so quickly."
The first batch includes 10 tanks as well as 24 howitzers. This is the first equipment that Poland has received from the South Korea. The Polish government has decided on substantial arms purchases from the Republic of Korea to boost its own Armed Forces, particularly as a substantial portion of the Polish Armed Forces equipment - including T-72 and PT-91 tanks as well as Krab and Goździk howitzers - was provided to Ukrainie within the military aid. The first framework agreements for K2 tanks, K9 howitzers and FA-50 aircraft were signed in late July.
The framework agreement with Hyundai Rotem assumes that 1000 tanks will be delivered. Based on the first execution agreement signed in August, Poland is to receive 180 K2 main battle tanks by the year 2025. The delivery would include a training/logistics package and ammunition. The amount associated with this contract is USD 3.43 bn. During the second stage of work associated with the framework agreement, it is expected that 820 K2PL main battle tanks would be manufactured within a framework of a Polish-Korean industrial cooperation. A broad transfer of technologies is expected to happen as well.
The July framework agreement with Hanwha Defense (now merged with Hanwha Aerospace) assumes that a total of 672 K9A1/K9PL howitzers would be delivered. The first 212 have been ordered in August, with a large quantity of ammunition, and maintenance/training packages. The price tag here is defined as USD 2.4 billion. The deliveries would be happening until 2026, while the 24 showcased guns would be commissioned in the 11th "Mazurski" Artillery Regiment by the end of 2022.
All howitzers are expected to be integrated with the Polish C2 network, and the Topaz fire control system. WB Group and Hanwha Defense concluded a relevant integration agreement regarding the first 212 guns back in September. During the second phase of the undertaking, 460 K9PL howitzers are to be manufactured within Polish-Korean industrial cooperation.
The howitzers delivery took only about three months after an executive contract was signed in late August. As the company highlights, after the first contract is executed, plans are also in place to manufacture hundreds of more K9PLs in Poland from 2026 in cooperation with Polska Grupa Zbrojeniowa (PGZ), the largest defence group in Poland, which also manufactures the Krab Self-Propelled Howitzer. In addition, Hanwha Aerospace also plans to build an advanced MRO center in Poland to provide efficient logistics support to Poland and other K9 user countries across the European region.
"There is no doubt Hanwha Aerospace is the most reliable partner for Poland to contribute the Polish defence capability and industry growth," said Son Jaeil, President and CEO of Hanwha Aerospace. "Hanwha is committed to making Poland as a hub for the supply of K9 systems in Europe based on stronger partnership with the Government of Poland."
Head of the Polish Ministry of Defence, Mariusz Błaszczak had announced earlier on that the first K2 MBTs and K9A1 howitzers would be commissioned in elements subordinated to the 16th "Pomorska" Mechanized Division – the main battle tank battalion of the 20th Mechanized Brigade, and the 11th "Mazurski" Artillery Regiment. The equipment destined for Poland was showcased in South Korea in late October.