SECURITY 27 December, 2023 7:45 am   
COMMENTS: Joanna Słowińska

Perzyński: Korea’s K2 goes to Poland

K2-Black-Panther-Fot.-Wikipedia K2 Black Panther Picture by Wikipedia

The Korean K2 Black Panther tank is to bring the Polish army to a higher level, and the national arms sector is to acquire technology transfer and innovation. However, the new government has announced that it would re-examine all arms contracts, which could weaken the Polish-Korean weapons partnership – writes Jacek Perzyński, editor at

Huge and expensive shopping spree in Korea

Poland intends to buy 1,000 K2 tanks from the Korean manufacturer Hyundai-Rotem, and some of them will be built in the country. Currently, the Polish army is equipped with 28 such tanks. By 2025, Poland will have 180 Korean K2 tanks.

According to the Ministry of Defense, the total value of military equipment ordered in South Korea last year is 12,32 billion dollars (approx. PLN 50 billion). In addition to K2 tanks, the deal also includes 212 Hanwha K9A1 Thunder gun-howitzers, 48 FA-50 Golden Eagle combat training aircraft and K239 Chunmoo artillery missile systems.

However, this is not it, as some of the contract types are framework, which means it is possible to order armaments in smaller quantities, e.g. the target amount of the K2 tanks for the Polish army is 1 thousand, K9 howitzers – 672 and K239 – 288. We will also have to pay for additional ammunition. All in all, the purchase of Korean equipment will consume many billions of zlotys.

The Black Panther is a Korean beast

The K2 Black Panther  is one of the newest tanks in active service, which it joined in 2014, but it has been modernized regularly. The main weapon on this design is a 120-millimeter cannon, which, thanks to its elongated design, provides the projectiles with greater accuracy and piercing force. The weight of the tank is 55 tons, and the crew consists of three people (commander, gunner and driver).

Korean arms manufacturer Hyundai-Rotem points out that its design also uses an automatic system for loading guns, so it has a higher rate of fire than the competition. Interestingly, the K2 can fire up to 10 missiles in 1 minute, carrying 40 rounds of ammunition.

Black Panther is also packed with new digital technologies that increase the tank’s defense capabilities. It is protected from enemy missiles with, for example, a soft-kill active defense system that makes it possible to disturb the sensors of enemy ammunition. The K2 tank also has a special system that warns the crew of missiles fired in its direction.

Hyundai-Rotem adds that the same system can also automatically fire smoke grenades that block the thermal signature of the tank, making it difficult for the enemy to detect it. The protection of the crew is also ensured by a system that jams enemy radars and an automatic fire protection system, which is designed to independently detect and extinguish fire inside the vehicle.

Defending NATO’s Achilles heel

The Suwałki Gap is a narrow, 65-kilometer area located on the border of Poland, Lithuania and Russia, covering the area around Suwałki, Augustów and Sejn. It is currently the only land connection between Poland and the Baltic states. The region, according to the U.S. Army, is Europe’s hottest spot and is referred to as “Europe’s Achilles’ heel.”

It should be mentioned that the first copies of the Korean K2 tanks went to the 20th Mechanized Brigade, which is stationed in Morąg in the Warmian-Masurian Voivodeship. It is worth noting that this is a special region due to the specific shape of the terrain with numerous hills, lakes and forests. Masuria is a wetland, which makes it difficult for the heavier M1A2 Abrams tanks to fight there. The K2s are lighter and will be able to operate more efficiently on muddy and rough terrain.

In addition, the Black Panther is equipped with an innovative suspension that can be lowered in a kneeling-like maneuver, which in Masurian areas can reduce its visibility and is certainly a kind of additional camouflage.

New government and new approach

The arms contracts with South Korea were initiated by the then Minister of Defence Mariusz Blaszczak. It should be mentioned that at that time the opposition criticized the decisions of the Ministry of Defence for uncontrolled and ill-considered purchases with the omission of tenders and consultations with the opposition.

The current head of the Ministry of Defense, Władysław Kosiniak-Kamysz, will most likely take a different approach to mass arms contracts. “Agreements with the South Korean industry will be reviewed at the Ministry of Defence, and, where possible, orders for equipment and weapons will also be placed in the Polish Arms Industry,” Minister Kosiniak – Kamysz said in an interview with Radio Zet.

Most likely this doesn’t mean that Poland will withdraw from the deals with Korea, but the new team at the Defence Ministry will have to take a closer look at the agreements.

We need to modernize the army, but it has to make sense

There is no doubt that due to the threat from Russia, it is necessary to speed up the armament, but the exclusion of the then opposition from the talks on issues as important as long-term arms contracts was not a reasonable solution and could expose Poland to delays in deliveries after the government change. It may turn out that part of the contracts will be “cut” or the state budget may simply not have enough money to finance purchases, since the total value of all contracts will amount to several tens of billions of zlotys.

Nevertheless, the K2 tanks will undoubtedly be a significant reinforcement for the Polish army, especially that they will replace the outdated Soviet T-72s, which were mostly sent to Ukraine. The choice of South Korea as one of the main arms suppliers is also justified by the fact that the industry there is willing to share know-how and is capable of technology transfer, which will certainly be very helpful for the Polish armament industry.