Poland Concludes a Deal on Hundreds of Korean Multiple Rocket Launchers
Head of the Polish MoD, Mariusz Błaszczak announced that the negotiation on procurement of the Korean K239 Chunmoo rocket artillery system has been finalized. The Polish Armed Forces would receive almost 300 systems as such, while the Polish defence industry would receive the rockets manufacturing know-how, stated Błaszczak in an interview for i.pl. Defence24.pl reported back in August, that there is a growing probability Poland would purchase the South Korean system.
According to the head of the Polish Ministry of Defence, we would first witness a framework agreement regarding this procurement. That means that the acquisition would be reminiscent of K2 MBTs, or K9 howitzers purchase. The K239 system, as well as the K9 howitzer platform, are both manufactured by Hanwha Defense.
Błaszczak stated, in his interview for i.pl, that the first launchers would be received by the Armed Forces in 2023, and the IOC is also expected to be achieved during that year. This shows in the high tempo of deliveries. Poland is also procuring major quantities of munitions, including guided rockets for the Korean MLRS (with a range of 80 km), as well as tactical ballistic missiles (a range of 300 km).
The agreement would also entail a transfer of technologies - manufacturing, maintenance, and upgrade capabilities. The head of the MoD also said the launchers would be integrated with the Topaz system, and the Polish Jelcz trucks, while the Polish industry would acquire the know-how required to manufacture the missiles.
The K239 Chunmoo procurement is going to take place in parallel to the acquisition of the US-made HIMARS system. The acquisition of two systems is aimed at accelerating the process, throughout which the IOC would be established. Back in May this year Poland submitted a request for the procurement of 500 M142 HIMARS launchers. A potential acquisition of two systems has been an option for quite some time now though. It was unclear whether the Americans would be able to deliver its launchers on time, meeting the deadline defined by Poland. "It remains unclear whether the Americans would be able to fully meet that demand across a short enough timeline, given the fact that the US military is also seeking options to increase the inventory of MLRS-class assets. Thus, the Polish Ministry of Defence has gotten itself engaged in talks on the procurement of extra rocket artillery systems from the Republic of Korea. The above refers to the K239 Chunmoo already commissioned in the South Korean Army that also operates the US-made M270A0/A1 MLRS solution on a tracked platform", Defence24.com reported back in August.
K239 Chunmoo is a self-propelled MLRS that can launch rockets of varying calibres. It has been commissioned by the Republic of Korea Armed Forces to replace the legacy K136 platform. The system carries two rocket containers, each can accommodate 6 guided 239 mm rockets with a range of 80 kilometres, or a single ballistic missile, with a range of ca. 290 kilometres. Let us add that an R&D effort has been launched, aimed at developing MLRS effectors with a range extended to 150-200 kilometres. The Korean MLRS system can also launch 130 and 227-mm rockets.
The acquisition of the K239 Chunmoo launchers would provide the Polish Rocket and Artillery Component with a major reinforcement, while the transfer of technologies should result in a significant enhancement of the Polish industrial capacity, especially if the rocket artillery rounds are going to be manufactured in Poland. At the same time, the commissioning of this system would be a major challenge for the Polish Armed Forces. It would be necessary to prepare relevant infrastructure, a supply chain, and, above all, the human resources needed to work with the K239 Chunmoo and HIMARS systems. This would be difficult, given the fact the Polish Armed Forces do not operate similar systems today. We should hope the soldiers would be able to easily tackle this serious challenge.