Korean companies sign deals to export tanks and howitzers to Poland
Two Korean defense companies have signed contracts worth a total $5.76 billion to export tanks and howitzers to Poland, the Korean arms procurement agency said Saturday.
The announcement of the contracts by Seoul’s Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) marks the culmination of agreements reached last month, when Warsaw’s defense ministry said the country would buy a large package of weapons systems from Korea to modernize its military in the wake of the Russian invasion of neighboring Ukraine.
According to DAPA, Hyundai Rotem and Hanwha Defense inked the contracts with Warsaw’s Armament Agency on Friday to respectively supply K-2 battle tanks and K-9 self-propelled howitzers.
While DAPA did not disclose the exact terms of the contracts, the Polish Ministry of National Defense uploaded a post to Twitter saying that 180 K-2 tanks will be delivered from 2022 to 2025, as well as 212 K-9 howitzers from 2022 to 2026.
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 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 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 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.
Under the framework contracts, Poland is committed to procuring 980 K-2 tanks and 648 K9 howitzers from the two companies, as well as 48 FA-50 fighter jets from Korea Aerospace Industries, the country’s sole aircraft manufacturer.
Warsaw’s defense ministry has described the deals as one of the country's "most important and largest" defense orders in recent years.
In July, Polish Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak cited the Russian invasion of Ukraine as the main driver of the purchase in an interview with Polish defense media outlet Defence24.
“The unpredictable nature of Putin means that we need to accelerate equipment modernization even further,” Blaszczak said. “It is of key importance to increase the levels of security as fast as possible for Poland. We can do this only by creating a powerful military that is strong enough to deter any potential aggressor from deciding to attack.”
The decision to purchase Korean weapons was guided by the need for “lethality, delivery speed and industrial benefits” for Poland, according to Blaszczak.
“The agreement with the Koreans that we have managed to negotiate fuses all of the above elements,” the Polish defense minister said, noting that “other equipment manufacturers have not been able to deliver armament of that quality at such short notice, and with such broad collaboration with the Polish defense industry.”
BY MICHAEL LEE [firstname.lastname@example.org]