Norway-based munitions specialist Nammo has entered into an agreement with South Korea’s Hyundai Rotem to develop new 120mm ammunition for the latter’s K2 Black Panther main battle tank (MBT), the company announced.
According to Nammo, the contract has an initial value of US$5 million covering research and development, with the potential of exceeding US$100 million should the company be selected as a supplier of 120mm ammunition to K2 MBT users in the region.
Nammo stated that it will commence integration of its current 120mm ammunition range to the K2 MBT, with the aim of partnering with Hyundai Rotem to co-develop a programmable fuze that would enable the tank to employ a more diverse range of munitions, including airburst rounds.
The company added that the first successful test shots with the new airburst ammunition have already been fired at Rena firing range in Østerdalen during winter test and trials in Norway. Testing will also be facilitated by the permanent deployment of a K2 MBT to Nammo’s Raufoss test centre to support on-site trials.
“The agreement between the two companies will further prepare the K2 MBT for the European market,” said Hyundai Rotem vice-president Lee Eui-seong.
“The K2 today is fully interoperable with NATO ammunition standards and the co-operation with Nammo will further strengthen the security of supply both for Norway and other K2 users in Europe,” Lee added.
Poland awarded Hyundai Rotem a contract August for the supply of around 180 K2 MBTs, with subsequent technology transfer that will enable indigenous production of another 820 K2PL MBTs in successive contracts.
South Korea had earlier won a contract to deliver 24 Hanwha Land Systems 155mm K9 Thunder self-propelled howitzers (SPHs) in December 2017 along with six K10 armoured ammunition resupply vehicles worth around US$215 million.
The first batch of K9 Thunders arrived in Norway in late 2019. Once fully operationalised, the new SPH will replace the M109A3GNM systems currently in service with the Norwegian Army. The South Korean system had won in a competitive tender which included the French CAESAR, German Panzerhaubitze 2000 (PzH-2000), and the Swiss RUAG M109 Krait upgrade.
Seoul no doubt hopes to ride on the momentum of its K9 Thunder win to help boost its prospects to win the Norwegian MBT programme, which will replace the army’s Leopard 2A4 platforms. Its only competitor is Germany’s Krauss-Maffei Wegmann (KMW), whose PzH-2000 system lost out against the Koreans in the SPH programme. KMW has entered its latest Leopard 2A7 MBT.
The Norwegian Defence Materiel Agency (NDMA) announced on 28 January that winter trials for the MBT programme have begun at the Rena camp, with both companies deploying two tanks each to be evaluated for mobility and shooting performance. A contract is expected to be awarded by the end of the year with deliveries planned to commence from 2025.
by Jr Ng