Armed Forces

Poland Procures Hundreds of Korean Chunmoo MLRS

Photo. J. Sabak/Defence24

Head of the Polish MoD, Mariusz Błaszczak has approved a framework agreement on the delivery of 288 K239 Chunmoo systems for the Polish Armed Forces. With that contract seeing implementation, not only would the capabilities of the Polish artillery units be expanded, but a major challenge would emerge ahead of them.

According to the provisions of the framework agreement, Poland would ultimately receive 288 K239 Chunmoo systems, along with a major quantity of relevant munitions. The launchers carry two rocket containers, each that 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. All launchers would be integrated with the Polish Topaz Fire Control System, and use Jelcz trucks as the base platform. Separate agreements would be signed to procure command vehicles, recovery vehicles, maintenance support vehicles, or ammunition carriers.

The Polish MoD assures that the first squadron (18 launchers) would be delivered in 2023 (munitions included), with IOC also expected to be achieved. Mariusz Błaszczak, head of the Polish Ministry of Defence assured that the first launchers would be received by the 18th Mechanized Division (the "Iron Division"), probably by the newly formed 18th Artillery Regiment. In the longer run, a broad transfer of technologies is expected, including the rocket manufacturing know-how being provided to Poland.

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 that 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. Not only is Poland going to receive the equipment for the Chunmoo squadron, but a HIMARS squadron ordered back in 2019 is also going to be delivered.

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", reported back in August.