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Industry

President of Hyundai Rotem: K2PL well-equipped to counteract any future threats

K2GF, tank k2, polish army
Polish K2GF.
Photo. Robert Suchy/Defence24.pl

Anti-drone system and hard kill type APS have been proven to be highly effective against recently evolving threats such as drones and Anti-Tank Guided Missile (ATGM). These advanced total protection solutions have undergone rigorous testing and have demonstrated their ability to neutralize threats, ensuring K2PL to be well-equipped to counteract any future threats successfully

Jędrzej Graf, Defence24.pl Poland has been receiving K2 Main Battle Tanks from Hyundai Rotem since the year 2022. What is the current experience of K2 in Poland that you are aware of? And what are the next steps in K2 program in Poland, including the production of K2PL Main Battle Tank in Poland?

Yong-Bae Lee, Hyundai Rotem Company President & CEO: Hyundai Rotem delivered the first K2 Gap Filler (GF) MBTs in just three months after signing the first executive contract for K2GF with Poland in August 2022. Unprecedented in the defense industry, the prompt and accurate delivery of K2GF MBTs to Poland received positive feedback from Poland for its speed and quality. In particular, the user – Polish Armed Forces – was satisfied with the K2GF for its versatility, excelling in multiple fields, including firepower, shooting accuracy, mobility, compared to the existing other main battle tanks. Such positive feedback resulted from numerous firing exercises conducted in the field and field operations. It is a clear example of why the K2 MBT is called a »combat-ready« tank.

Hyundai Rotem will do its best to implement the subsequent K2PL project to safeguard freedom and peace in Poland with a sense of strong responsibility. For co-production of K2PL MBT, Hyundai Rotem is in close consultation with the members of a consortium, PGZ and WZM, discussing about establishing production capabilities in Poland and transferring technology. Hyundai Rotem has thorough preparations to pave the way for local production of K2PL MBTs and deliver the tanks seamlessly according to the timetable set by the Polish Armament Agency.

k2gf, polish k2, tank
K2GF in polish armed forces.
Photo. Robert Suchy/Defence24.pl
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Korean parliament has just accepted the additional loan financing for defence procurements of Poland (Eximbank). What is the significance of this for K2PL project?

The National Assembly of the Republic of Korea has approved an amendment of the Act to increase the Export-Import Bank of Korea’s (Korea Eximbank) legal capital limit at the end of February. It is momentous in that it now provides an opportunity for the Republic of Korea government, National Assembly, and companies to conclude Executive Contract (EC) #2 and subsequent ECs as well as export additional weapon systems to Poland. Hyundai Rotem hopes that the increase of the capital limit will be a catalyst to implement K2PL project more seamlessly.

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How do you assess the cooperation with Polish industry? Is in your opinion Polish industry ready to engage in co-production of K2PL Main Battle Tank?

Hyundai Rotem considers the industrial cooperation for local production to be one of the most important factors in K2PL project. In the project, Hyundai Rotem will pursue the establishment of K2PL production facilities, transfer of technology, and application of modern technology and polish products. Moreover, Hyundai Rotem will be in full support of maintaining the optimal performance of K2 MBT by utilizing the local facilities and infrastructure for its MRO.

Hyundai Rotem estimates that the Polish defense industry already has essential capabilities to produce K2PL MBT and expects that WZM, a local partner in Poland, will be capable of co-producing K2PL at its factories given that WZM has invested in production for K2PL. Hyundai Rotem will put all its efforts to transfer technology and establish production capability in a timely manner based on unwavering trust built in close collaboration with Polish defense companies.

Prototyp K2EX Black Panther zademonstrowany na targach ADEX 2023 w Seulu.
Prototyp K2EX Black Panther zademonstrowany na targach ADEX 2023 w Seulu.
Photo. Hyundai Rotem

What are key elements of improvements that K2PL may have in comparison to current K2? And what are the improvements of K2 that Republic of Korea Army is pursuing? To what extent the improvements required by the Republic of Korea are similar to those in K2PL?

In comparison to the current version of K2 MBT, the advanced technologies including Programmable Ammunition System (PAS), Remote Controlled Weapon System (RCWS), Situational Awareness System (SAS), Active Protection System (APS) of hard-kill type and upgraded passive armors will be applied to K2PL as the key upgraded solutions. Such key solutions will be optimized to be applied to K2PL. All customers have noticed a new trend in the battlefield around the world.

Therefore, an advanced research conducted from early this year, the K2 Performance Improvement Program (K2 PIP), is closely associated with K2PL. In this regard, Hyundai Rotem R&D Center remains steadfast to develop K2 PIP and design K2PL in order to meet all the requirements by the Republic of Korea and Poland Armed Forces.

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Korea has also offered Poland a new type of Wheeled Armored Vehicle. What are the features of this vehicle, such as weight, armor, connectivity?

Hyundai Rotem has produced and provided the 6x6 and 8x8 Wheeled Armored Vehicle (WAV) to the Republic of Korea Army since 2017, as the officially designated provider. As a subsidiary of Hyundai Motor Group, one of the world top 3 motor groups, cutting-edge automotive technologies of Hyundai Motor Company have been applied to its WAV. Hyundai Rotem is in development of its own model of a new WAV suitable for current battlefield in close technical cooperation with Hyundai Motor Company and by collecting data and users« opinions from field operations over many years.

The first prototype of the new WAV was displayed at ADEX 2023. The Polish new WAV proposed by Hyundai Rotem will be similar with the N-WAV displayed at ADEX 2023. The development specifications for combat weight, protection, and connectivity will be optimized for Polish-South Korean end users« requirements. The new WAVs of Poland and South Korea will on the common platform.

The prototype of the new APC Hyundai Rotem presented during ADEX 2023
Photo. Paweł Kupisz/Defence24

What is the industrial cooperation concept for the New Wheeled Armored Vehicle? Could this vehicle be integrated with a Polish turret and produced in Poland?

Hyundai Rotem hopes to develop the Polish indigenous NV jointly with Polish institutions and companies. Hyundai Rotem proposes to apply the Polish turret and many Polish components on the NV-PL. Hyundai Rotem is going to cooperate with its Polish partners in order to ensure seamless development, upgrades and export of NV-PL.

Have you already tested the New Wheeled Armored Vehicle prototype? When could it be ready for serial production?

The N-WAV, a wheeled armored vehicle developed independently by Hyundai Rotem, is in its final stages of performance tuning. The NV-PL (Poland’s new indigenous WAV) is set to leverage the latest technologies from the N-WAV, paving the way for mass production to commence in the shortest possible time. Hyundai Rotem is going to move forward with its project to enable the first batch of N-WAVs to be delivered to the Polish Army within four years should it participate in Poland’s new WAV project. Hyundai Rotem’s participation in the project will significantly contribute to the defense of Poland and the Polish defense industry. Furthermore, HRC expects that Poland and South Korea will be able to export thousands of the NV-PL to other European countries.

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Current conflicts, such as the war in Ukraine, come with the increase of threats for tanks and Armored Vehicles, including by drones and anti-tank systems. How does Hyundai Rotem respond to that, for K2 but also New Wheeled Vehicle?

Hyundai Rotem Company (HRC) has been continuously conducting research and development about a total protection solution for its K2 and WAV against various threats including drones and Anti-Tank Guided Missile (ATGM). In case of K2PL, the multi-layered total protection solution will include the Mobile Camouflage System (MCS) and Smoke grenade launcher for detection avoidance and Hard-kill type Active Protection System (APS), Remote Controlled Weapon System (RCWS), drone jammer and Laser Warning System (LWS) for hit avoidance, and upgraded armor, reactive armor and an NBC protection system for enhanced crews« survivability.

In particular, the anti-drone system and hard kill type APS have been proven to be highly effective against recently evolving threats such as drones and Anti-Tank Guided Missile (ATGM). These advanced total protection solutions have undergone rigorous testing and have demonstrated their ability to neutralize threats, ensuring K2PL to be well-equipped to counteract any future threats successfully.

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Hyundai Rotem is developing Unmanned Ground Vehicles (UGV). What are their capabilities and how could they complement K2 and new Wheeled Armored Vehicle on the battlefield?

The Unmanned Ground Vehicles (UGV) which HRC is developing include a 2-ton multi-purpose model. It’s designed with versatility, capable of adapting to various missions, including transportation of materials & patients, surveillance & reconnaissance, and combat support. Currently, it can be operated at a maximum speed of over 50 km/h, drive a range of over 100 km, and maintain a line of sight of more than 3 km. And with the use of communication relay drones, its operational range can be extended even further. What sets our UGV apart is its advanced driving capabilities.

Remote driving and autonomous driving functions aren’t just optional; they come standard. The UGV will be operated in the first echelon of the K2 tank or wheeled armored vehicle fleet, instilling confidence in their cutting-edge capabilities. One of the key advantages of our UGV is its ability to protect friendly forces. Performing missions such as surveillance and reconnaissance or even eliminating enemy Special Forces can secure the area and significantly reduce the risk of damage to our troops.

Południowokoreański bezzałogowiec lądowy HR-Sherpa od Hyundai Rotem na MSPO 2023.
Photo. Adam Świerkowski/Defence24
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What are the most important R&D projects for Hyundai Rotem in the defence sector and could Poland take part?

Based on cooperation for K2PL project, Hyundai Rotem hopes to extend the cooperation with Poland to many areas Hyundai Rotem is ready to cooperate for the NV-PL and multi-purpose UGV. Hyundai Rotem hopes to further expand mutual cooperation in the areas including hydrogen energy, autonomous driving, and AI-based future mobility, all of which is in under the research and development by Hyundai Rotem and Hyundai Motor Company. Hyundai Rotem is currently developing a new WAV and the next generation MBT based on hydrogen energy and AI technology. Hyundai Rotem is confident that strengthening cooperation in such areas will promote mutual development greatly.

As Hyundai Rotem is not only a defence company but also a technology, automotive and energy company, I would like to ask what are possible cooperation areas with Poland beyond the defence sector. And what are the investments that have already been made?

Hyundai Rotem Company (HRC) has three divisions, including Defense and Railway solutions divisions. HRC signed a contract with the city of Warsaw in May 2019 to supply 123 trams. HRC has completed the delivery of these trams this year. The Warsaw City Tram, a testament to our commitment to sustainability, is an eco-friendly and high-efficiency vehicle. It incorporates the latest energy-saving system, leading to a remarkable 30% energy saving compared to previous models. In addition, in close cooperation with the Polish engineering company, HRC designed the tram and the Polish company supplied major devices such as propellant device and pantograph.

Hyundai Rotem hopes to push forward with future projects, including the Polish high-speed rail project, through strategic cooperation with local rail-making companies. Moreover, HRC is confident to say that HRC has the technology and experience in various areas of the eco-friendly hydrogen value chain, including hydrogen production, extraction, and charging facilities. When applied to the railway industry, this technology offers significant benefits such as reduced emissions and increased energy efficiency. From hydrogen infrastructure to hydrogen utilization, HRC hopes to become the business partner in the hydrogen sector for Poland.

Thank you for the conversation.

Yong-Bae Lee, prezes zarządu i dyrektor generalny Hyundai Rotem Company.
Photo. Hyundai Rotem Company
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