S. Korea Winds Up K2 Tank Development, Aids Turkey
By WENDELL MINNICK KUALA LUMPUR — South Korea will complete development of its K2 tank at year’s end, said Jo Hyung Joon, a senior research engineer with Hyundai Rotem.
“Test trials will be done in 2009 and production is scheduled for 2010,” Jo said at the Defense Ser vices Asia 2008 exhibition in Malaysia. Hyundai Rotem, an affiliate of South Korea’s Hyundai Motor Group, will “probably produce 200 to start, but [the] exact requirement has not yet been determined,” he said.
Other sources have suggested South Korea could order up to 700 K2s, while foreign sales could push total production over 1,000.
Hyundai Rotem is also helping Turkey design a tank.
At 55,000 kilograms, the K2 is roughly 1,800 kilograms heavier than the K1. The addition of an automatic loader means the K2 needs just three crewmen. It has a 120mm/55-caliber smoothbore gun, compared with the 120mm/44-caliber smoothbore gun on the K1. The K2 has a range of 450 kilometers at a maximum speed of 70 kph on roads and 50 kph cross-country. The K1 has a range of 400 kilometers.
The K2 “Black Panther” will gradually replace aging M48 Patton tanks. South Korea has more than 900 M48s, along with about 250 M47s, 35 T-80Us and about 550 K1s, which are being upgraded to the K1A1 standard with a 120mm gun, an improved gun/turret drive and a new ballistic computer.
The $230 million development program, begun in 1995 and headed by the Agency for Defense Development (ADD), came up with three prototypes. South Korea-based Samsung Techwin and World Industries Ace Corp. will provide parts and supplies for the K2.
There have been unconfirmed reports that the K2 might be integrated with an unmanned reconnaissance vehicle: the eXperimental Autonomous Vehicle, being developed by the ADD and the Ministry of Information and Communication.
Hyundai Rotem makes other armored vehicles, including the sixwheel-drive Infantry Carrier Vehicle whose variants include a 120mm mortar carrier, nuclear-biologicalchemical vehicles, a command vehicle and a reconfigured eightwheel-drive anti-air gun variant.
“Besides our own intelligence platform systems technology, Hyundai Rotem is investing and developing autonomous, mobility, protection, M/S and other core weapon technology for RoK MND [Republic of Korea Ministry of National Defense] and Ministry of Industry,” a news release said.
Hyundai Rotem also is supporting the Turkish national main battle tank program, Jo said.
“Development will begin this year and will last for five to seven years. The tank will be based on the K2. Otokar [of Turkey] will be the main contractor,” he said.
Turkey plans to make 500 tanks, with series production tentatively scheduled to start in 2012.
Hyundai Rotem won the $540 million deal after defeating the Frenchbuilt Nexter AMX-56 Leclerc and the German-built Leopard 2, and signed a contract last June.