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Industry

Hyundai Rotem: we propose a digital Wilk MBT and a Polish Korean Wheeled Armored Vehicle

K2 tank
Photo. Hyundai Rotem

Hyundai Rotem is offering its K2PL MBT accompanied by a broad industrial proposal to Poland, within the framework of the Polish Wilk new generation MBT procurement program. Additionally, discussions are ongoing between the governments of Poland and Korea, regarding the fast delivery of existing K2 Main Battle Tanks. Hyundai Rotem has also offered Poland an industrial cooperation on the Wheeled Armored Vehicle, which could be produced in Poland and then exported abroad.

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The K2 MBT is being delivered in the Republic of Korea Armed Forces, where it would replace the legacy M48A5 Patton tanks, also serving together with the K1A1/A2 MBTs which are being upgraded in parallel. The K2 features a Korean 120 mm 55 Cal. main gun, a hydropneumatic in-arm suspension system that enhances the tank's mobility. It also has right from the start been designed to operate in a network-centric environment, allowing for integration and communication between various systems.

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A major advantage of the K2 Main Battle Tank is the digitalization that can facilitate cooperation between the land, air and maritime forces, within the network centric environment. It is compliant with the NATO Generic Vehicle Architecture (GVA). Thus the platform can be integrated and communicate with any systems, not only the Land Forces systems, but also with the Air Force and Navy systems. Also, the K2, like other Republic of Korea Army systems is interoperable with the US Army forces which are present in the Korean Peninsula
EUI-SEONG LEE, Vice President of Hyundai Rotem Defense Business division
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Also, another feature is the three-man crew, as opposed to four-man crew in other Main Battle Tanks, which allows to better manage limited manpower resources. The tank can also be integrated with an Active Protection System, either Korean solution or a system provided by a third party. In addition, K2 Main Battle Tank is in serial production and fielded by the Republic of Korea Army, and it is in the beginning stage of its lifecycle. It is expected that it will be used for at least 30 years, and over that time it will be continuously upgraded, which ensures a stable security of in-service support.

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Currently, the third batch of K2 MBTs is being manufactured for the Republic of Korea Army, and when the production is completed, the Army would be in possession of 260 MBTs in total. Further procurement is, expected with the 4th Batch for Korean Army. Meanwhile, Hyundai Rotem is seeking new customers for its MBT, with support provided by the government in Seoul. The K2, tailored to meet different sets of requirements, is promoted in Poland (K2PL), Norway (K2NO), and Egypt (K2EGY).

Lrft to right: K2 in desert camo, K2 of Army of Republic of Korea variant and K2NO.
Photo. Hyundai Rotem

Each of the three offers includes an industrial cooperation package, envisaging the establishment of domestic manufacturing capacity. For instance, the K2NO has been fitted with the off-the-shelf Israeli Hard-Kill active protection system and Kongsberg's RCWS as an option. Ultimately, the Norwegian MBT is also to feature a domestically developed communications system. The K2NO is currently, competing against the German Leopard 2A7. Meanwhile, Egypt is looking to procure a replacement of more than 2 thousand legacy MBTs, including the Russian-made T-55/T-62, and US-made M60 tanks operated alongside 1,000 Abrams MBTs, some of which have been license-manufactured domestically.

The offer for Poland is distinguished by the fact that a brand-new MBT would be developed, in collaboration with the PGZ group. The initial concepts for the K2PL design have already been showcased at the MSPO exhibition. It was assumed that the vehicle would feature an extra pair of road wheels, and extra armor, being heavier and better protected than its predecessor. The MBT would also feature a broad array of Polish components including optoelectronics, within the polonization strategy. The Korean side also declares their openness to a transfer of technology concerning not only the integration and assembly of the tank, but also the major components of the MBT such as the main gun, the hydropneumatic suspension, and the autoloader system.

K2PL is a long-term project. We expect that the entire project including not only the design and development but also the technology transfer, establishing of the manufacturing capacity and the delivery of the actual tanks would last 10 to 15 years. Within that period, Poland would obtain an independent development, manufacturing and operating capability. The timeline of the K2 project is depending on the scope of development efforts, changes to the baseline K2 MBT design as well as of the scope of the polonization. As one of the variants, we have proposed a quite aggressive schedule, where K2PL would be developed in the 2023-2025 timeframe
EUI-SEONG LEE, Vice President of Hyundai Rotem Defense Business division

Eventually, this would provide Poland with a sovereign manufacturing and development capacity, regarding the new Main Battle Tank. The vehicle would be tailored for the integration of new electronic systems, new generation weapons and beyond. Over the time, the Polish-Korean cooperation on K2PL could be extended into a next generation Main Battle Tank platform.

Model of K2PL Wilk with additional pair of roadwheels visible
Photo. Rafał Surdacki/Defence24.pl.

There is a possibility of delivery of existing K2 Main Battle Tanks, and discussions are taking place between the Polish and Korean governments.

We are seriously considering expanding our manufacturing capability in order to increase the number of K2 Main Battle Tank we can deliver, due to the current situation in Ukraine. In case the Polish and Korean government came to agreement, we would increase the manufacturing capacity, and the Korean government would decide, in agreement with the Polish government, how many K2 MBTs would be delivered to Poland.
EUI-SEONG LEE, Vice President of Hyundai Rotem Defense Business division

It is also possible to develop the family vehicles such as Combat Engineering Vehicle (CEV) and Armored Recovery Vehicle (ARV) based on the K2PL Platform. Hyundai Rotem has necessary technologies and experiences for developing the family vehicles based on K1 ARV & K600 CEV development on K1 MBT Platform. Hyundai Rotem had already suggested  to develop K2PL MBT along with CEV and ARV during the Phase 1 of K2PL Program.

Armored Wheeled Vehicle

Besides the K2 Main Battle Tank, Hyundai Rotem also designed and is manufacturing Wheeled Armored Vehicles, namely the K606 (6x6) and K808 (8x8) for the Republic of Korea Army. The Korean company offered Poland to cooperate in the area of Wheeled Armored Vehicles. The aim would be to establish a sovereign manufacturing capability for Poland, and then to export the WAVs abroad.

Hyundai Rotem is the official provider of the Wheeled Armored Vehicle for the Korean Army. We have delivered a Korean indigenous Wheeled Armor Vehicle, with more than 90 percent of domestic production in subsystems and technology, thus there are no export restrictions. We have proposed to develop a new Wheeled Armored Vehicle, suited for the Polish requirements. Poland will be able develop and export the vehicle without any restrictions.
EUI-SEONG LEE, Vice President of Hyundai Rotem Defense Business division

The exact specification of the possible Polish-Korean Wheeled Armored Vehicle is now being discussed between Hyundai Rotem and PGZ. There are various options regarding its maneuverability, protection levels and firepower, and the vehicle will be tailored to the Polish needs. Also, there are different options on the shape of the industrial agreement, including establishing of a Polish-Korean Joint Venture company in Poland.

K808 AWV
Photo. Hyundai Rotem

Hyundai Rotem is proposing Poland an industrial cooperation both in the Main Battle Tank and in the Wheeled Armored Vehicle program, to establish development, manufacturingand sustainment capabilities in Poland and at the same time increase the defence capabilities of Polish Armed Forces.. There are also other potential cooperation areas, such as Hydrogen Drive Powered Unmanned Ground Vehicles. Hyundai Rotem is supported by the government of Republic of Korea.

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