Home Air Poland buying K2 tanks, FA-50 light fighters from South Korea

Poland buying K2 tanks, FA-50 light fighters from South Korea

Republic of Korea Air Force file photo of FA-50 light combat aircraft

After first reports emerged on a “major” upcoming defense deal between Poland and South Korea, Poland’s deputy prime minister confirmed that the country would buy 48 FA-50 light combat aircraft as well as 180 K2 tanks from South Korea.

In an interview with a local station, defense minister Mariusz Błaszczak said the official contract for the equipment would be signed next week.

The first copies of the first batch of Hyundai Rotem-built K2 tanks would arrive in Poland this year, the defense minister said, adding that the first Korea Aerospace Industries-built FA-50s could be delivered “as early as next year.”

The deal with South Korea is the latest move in a wide-ranging defense modernization Poland has been undertaking in recent years. In 2020, the country signed up for the purchase of F-35A fighter jets, in addition to investing in multiple air defense system programs. These include the acquisition of Patriot systems under its Wisla program, as well as the purchase of the CAMM-based Narew ground-based air defense (GBAD) system.

It should be noted that Poland is buying South Korean K2 tanks despite recently purchasing a total of 366 Abrams tanks from the United States, including 250 of the newest SEPv3 variant and 116 used tanks, which could later be upgraded.

The K2 and the Abrams will replace Poland’s T-72, and the T-72-derived PT-91 Twardy tank fleet. The K2 has been in South Korean army service since 2008 and is currently being evaluated by Egypt and Norway, after both countries earlier bought South Korean K9 self-propelled howitzers.

With its order for the FA-50, the light combat variant of the T-50 platform, Poland is becoming the seventh operators of the type, joining Indonesia, the Philippines, Iraq, Thailand, Colombia, and South Korea. The design of the dual-seat, single-engine T-50 Golden Eagle draws its design from the F-16 Fighting Falcon and can carry an internally-mounted cannon, as well as a range of weapons that can be mounted on hardpoints with wingtip rails capable of accommodating Sidewinder missiles. It has a maximum take-off weight of 12,383 kg.