South Korea takes centre-stage in Poland’s MSPO exhibition

South Korean defence industry has made its presence felt at the 2023 edition of International Defence Industry Exhibition MSPO held in Kielce, Poland. MSPO is one of the largest defence trade exhibitions in Europe.

The East Asian country has for the second time been selected as “lead nation” for the annual event, having secured the same honour for the first time in 2017.

Poland became the single largest international customer for South Korea, after Warsaw signed initial contracts worth US$14 billion to acquire 180 K-2 main battle tanks, 212 K-9 self-propelled howitzers (SPHs), K239 Chunmoo multiple launch rocket systems (MLRS) and 48 FA-50 light attack aircraft. Negotiations are under way to acquire more platforms and weapons.

According to the organizer, 30 Korean companies were represented, including defence primes such as Hanwha Aerospace, Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI), Hyundai Rotem, Kia and LIG Nex1.

Hanwha Aerospace was one of the most prominent with its 375 m2 stand which displayed the conglomerate’s wide variety of capabilities, from guided missiles and rockets, to combat-oriented unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs), and air-independent propulsion (AIP)-equipped submarines. In particular, an evolved version of Hanwha’s 6×6 Unmanned Ground Combat Vehicle (UGCV) – equipped with a launcher armed with its TaiPers (Tank Sniper) anti armour missiles – was displayed for the first time.

Hanwha Ocean, formerly Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering (DSME), showcased a model of its latest 3,000-tonne KSS-III Batch 2 design, which features lithium-ion battery technology for up to three times the endurance of conventional lead-acid batteries commonly used by in-service diesel-electric submarines. Poland is currently pursuing a US$2.25 billion programme called ‘Orka’ to acquire up to four new 3,000-tonne submarines.

Meanwhile, aircraft manufacturer KAI highlighted its 4.5 Generation KF-21 Boramae multirole combat aircraft and demonstrated its ambition to develop associated loyal wingman capabilities. It also highlighted manned-unmanned teaming (MUM-T) concepts for the Light Armed Helicopter (LAH) and MUH-1 Marineon medium helicopter. The company also signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Polish state-owned conglomerate Polska Grupa Zbrojeniowa (PGZ) for follow-on support for the Polish FA-50 aircraft as well as future cooperation.

by Jr Ng