Poland and South Korea have formalized an official agreement for Poland’s purchase of K2 Black Panther tanks and K9 self-propelled howitzers in deals worth around $5.7 billion.
Signed on August 26 in Poland, the contracts will see Hyundai Rotem deliver the first tranche of a planned 180 tanks, while Hanwha Defense will deliver the first howitzers.
The deals from Friday cover a portion of the agreed purchases, which will also include 48 FA-50 light combat aircraft, as first confirmed by Polish defense minister Mariusz Błaszczak in July this year.
Deliveries of both the tanks and the howitzers is set to start this year, the Polish defense ministry said. The contract for the FA-50s is expected to be signed next month.
The Polish deal is South Korea’s largest defense export contract, made possible by Poland’s wide-ranging modernization. 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.
Poland’s accelerated defense capability modernization is taking place amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine which started in February this year.
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.
K2 has a 120mm smoothbore cannon with an autoloader. Auxiliary armament includes a 7.62 mm machine gun and a 12.7 mm large-caliber machine gun.
The K9 155mm howitzer is capable of firing ammunition within 30 seconds of receiving a shooting command. It can fire up to 3 shots within 15 seconds and 18 consecutive shots for 3 minutes.
The 47-ton artillery has a firing range of 40 kilometers and can move as fast as 67 kilometers per hour. Fitted with an automatic fire control system, the howitzer can fire within 30 seconds from a stationary position and 60 seconds while on move, with a maximum rate of fire from six to eight rounds per minute.