South Korea lines up for more contract wins at MSPO

A K2 Black Panther main battle tank fires its 120 mm main gun during a firepower demonstration.

South Korea looks set to expand its already considerable defence export successes in Poland in September with further contracts expected to be announced by the Polish Ministry of National Defence (MND) at the upcoming MSPO defence exhibition in early September, the event’s organiser Targi Kielce noted on its website on 21 June.

The announcement comes a day after Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of National Defence Władysław Kosiniak-Kamysz met with his South Korean counterpart Shin Won-Sik in Warsaw. At the joint press conference after the meeting, Kosiniak-Kamysz told media that the discussion had centred on defence industrial collaboration as well as equipment acquisition for the Polish Army.

Kosiniak-Kamysz noted that further contracts to acquire South Korean equipment could potentially be signed during the MSPO exhibition with ongoing negotiations on financing – particularly the executive contract for the supply of up to 180 additional Hyundai Rotem K2 main battle tanks (MBTs) – close to being finalised.

Poland is understood to have committed to procuring up to 1,000 K2 MBTs in 2022, with the first 180 tanks – manufactured by Hyundai Rotem in South Korea – scheduled to for delivery from late 2022 through 2025. Subsequent tranches of tanks are expected to be customised for the Polish Army’s specific requirements under the K2PL designation and locally produced in Poland, with delivery from 2026. The first 180 South Korean-built K2 MBTs will also be upgraded to the K2PL standard.

The previous administration signed an executive contract for the delivery of the first batch of 180 K2 MBTs produced in South Korea for US$3.4 billion, which has been undergoing delivery since December 2022. More than 40 tanks are understood to have been delivered to the Polish Army since early 2023, with some of these diverted from production stock originally earmarked for the Republic of Korea Army (RoKA).

The second Polish K2 MBT production batch is expected to include tanks that will be domestically manufactured in Poland, with the eventual expectation of local production for subsequent batches.

Meanwhile,South Korea’s Shin asserted that Seoul is ready to transfer the technical knowhow and production technologies to Polish defence companies to enable local manufacture and maintenance of the tanks.

The discussion also touched on Polish defence exports to South Korea, with potential offerings including passive radar systems, self-propelled Rak 120mm mortars, remote weapon stations, and various types of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

by Jr Ng