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Land Forces

Korean K2 Main Battle Tanks on their Way to Poland

Photo. Hyundai Rotem

The first 10 K2 main battle tanks expected to be commissioned in the Polish Armed Forces have been showcased in South Korea.

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The main battle tanks demonstrated are to be received by the 20th Mechanized Brigade based in Morąg by the end of this year. It would be the first unit that would receive the new South Korean K2 main battle tanks. Based on the executory 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 in Poland. A broad transfer of technologies is expected to happen as well.

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The K2 MBT is a modern vehicle weighing ca. 55 tonnes. It is currently being commissioned in the South Korean Army. The K2 MBTs are armed with 120 mm/L55 guns. Coupled with an advanced fire control system, this armament provides substantial firepower. The gun features an autoloader, thanks to which the main battle tank is operated by a crew of 3.

The MBT is protected by layered armour. The mobility is enhanced by a 1,500 HP engine coupled with a hydropneumatic in-arm suspension system. The vehicle complies with the NATO Generic Vehicle Architecture guidelines, which would make any future upgrades much easier.

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This is what Div. Gen. Paweł Jabłoński, Land Forces Inspector, said about the K2PL variant, expected to be commissioned as of 2025: The main battle tank expected to be manufactured in Poland, as of 2026, would be very similar to the next version of the Korean MBT. The assumption for it is to be practically identical so that the two manufacturing facilities can strategically support each other, being located in two different geographical regions, in the event of manufacturing problems, or even recovery of losses. - said gen. Jabłoński.

Changes that would be introduced to meet our needs would primarily include extra armour, or a greater number of ERA elements, without a relevant change in the vehicle weight. Changes in the C2 area may also be introduced, in parallel with the adoption of those changes on other Polish platforms. The K2PL MBT, as the current variant of the Korean main battle tank, would be fitted with an active protection system. The possible use of US-made programmable munitions would also be relevant here. We are also considering fitting the tank with a 360 Degrees Observation System. Paradoxically, the biggest change would be seen in the fact that the tank would be manufactured in Poland - the general added in an interview with Defence24.pl (available in its entirety on the Polish website).

K2 is the first brand-new main battle tank that has been commissioned in the Polish Armed Forces since more than 2 decades. Earlier on, III-gen Leopard 2A4 and Leopard 2A5 MBTs were being procured (2002-2003, and 2014-2015 correspondingly). Nonetheless, these were second-hand MBTs, coming from the Bundeswehr's surplus. PT-91 Twardy has been the last of the brand new main battle tanks delivered to the Polish Armed Forces, on the verge of the 21st Century. The Twardy tank was a domestic upgrade of the T-72.

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The K2 main battle tanks (and K2PL in the future), would first be commissioned in the 16th Mechanized Division. The performance specification of the K2PL fits the geography of northeastern Poland best. In parallel, the 18th Mechanized Division would be receiving the heavier Abrams MBTs (first, the M1A1 SA, and then M1A2 SEPv3), acquired to meet the urgent operational requirements and to fill in the gaps that were formed after Poland had delivered some of its MBTs to Ukraine. Ultimately, the Polish Army is to operate 1,000 K2PL and 366 Abrams MBTs. The parallel acquisition of two main battle tank types is aimed at accelerating the replacement of the inventory in the existing units, and at making it possible to form new units in the structure of the Polish Armed Forces, also taking the military aid for Ukraine into the account.

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