Poland to buy jets, tanks, weapons from Korea
Poland's defense minister said his country plans to buy 48 FA-50 fighter jets, a first installment of 180 K-2 tanks and K-9 howitzers from Korea to bolster its military in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, according to Polish media Friday.
“Delivery of the [K-2 tanks] will begin this year, and in total there will be 180 tanks in the first order; ultimately, these tanks will be produced in Poland,” Polish Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak said in an interview with conservative weekly Sieci published online.
The K-2 battle tank, also known as the Black Panther, is a next-generation battle tank developed by Seoul’s Agency for Defense Development and manufactured by Hyundai Rotem.
The K-2 tank combines an auto-loaded 120-millimeter (4.7-inch) caliber main gun, advanced composite armor and multiple protection systems to intercept anti-tank missiles.
The first K-2 tanks entered service with the Korean Army in 2014.
Blaszczak said Poland would also buy K-9 howitzers and FA-50 fighter jets from Korea. “We are interested in purchasing three squadrons — that is, 48 aircraft,” Blaszczak said, adding that the first deliveries of the aircraft would arrive in Poland next year.
The FA-50 is the light combat variant of the T-50 supersonic jet trainer, produced by Korea’s sole aircraft manufacturer Korea Aerospace Industries. Besides Korea, T-50 jets are currently operated in Indonesia, Iraq, the Philippines and Thailand.
The K-9, a 155-millimeter caliber self-propelled howitzer manufactured by Hanwha Defense, has been a major success for Korea’s defense industry since its development was completed in 1999.
Over 600 units have been exported around the world to countries like Norway, Poland, Estonia, Finland, India and Turkey. Australia and Egypt have also inked deals within the past year to introduce the K-9 into their armed forces.
A defense industry source in Seoul who spoke on condition of anonymity declined to specify the exact number of K-9 howitzers that Warsaw plans to purchase, citing ongoing negotiations.
The source only added that a howitzer deal would likely include K-10 ammunition resupply vehicles.
While Korean defense officials and industry insiders have been tight-lipped about increased foreign interest in Korean weapons amid the war in Ukraine, defense analysts expect exports of local weapons to top $10 billion this year, with some already ranking the country as the world’s sixth largest defense exporter.
Seoul has been reluctant to fulfill requests from Kyiv for weapons in its fight against the Russian invasion, but this has not stopped Korean-made weapons from entering Ukraine.
Polish public radio reported in late May that Poland has given Ukraine 18 AHS Krab self-propelled howitzers as Kyiv fights to defend its eastern Donbas region from a massive Russian assault.
The AHS Krab howitzer combines a British AS-90M Braveheart turret with a 155mm 52-caliber gun and WB Electronics' Topaz artillery fire control system with the chassis, or load-bearing vehicle frame, of K-9 howitzers — the very same that Warsaw’s defense minister said his country wants to purchase from Korea.
BY MICHAEL LEE [email@example.com]