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K-2 Heukpyo [Black Panther] Main Battle Tank

The K2 is an improvement over South Korea's K1 tank, wich was designed by companies including General Dynamics and produced using many imported parts. Mass production began in 2013. Initially, 680 such tanks were planned for the country's army; as of 2016 the number had been reduced to 390.

The K2 costs around $8.5 million per unit. For comparison's sake, the new T-14 Armata Russian tank costs $3.7 million, and the US-made M1A2 Abrams costs $4.3 million. It is difficult to say whether the price is accurate but the tank's features and armaments are rather impressive. The tank features a 120mm 55 caliber smoothbore gun capable of firing 40 rounds.

The high price reflects the cost of domestically-made components, such as the engine from Doosan Infracore and transmission from S&T corporation, which raised the price and delayed production. The K2 has not had much success as an export because of its prohibitive cost. A licensed copy called the MITUP Altay is being debuted in Turkey, although it features a Turkish-designed turret.

The K2 Main Battle Tank is a next generation of main battle tank to replace the older K1 and American M47/M48 tanks. It will be fitted with German MTU 1500 hp Europowerpack for the engine, and a new 120mm cannon with autoloader. New armor and sensor system are intended to be comparable to the M1A2 and LeClerc. South Korea's next-generation tanks, code named "XK2" and nicknamed "Black Panther, were first seen during an unveiling ceremony in Changwon, southeast of Seoul, Friday, March 2, 2007.

The Agency for Defense Development and Rotem, an affiliate of the Hyundai-Kia Automotive Group, invested W200 billion over 12 years in development of the tank. The ADD ran the $230 million program with an industry team of about 20 domestic defense firms led by Rotem.

The Korean Future Main Battle Tank was developed as a indigenous tank to meet 21C digital battle field on the basis of development experiences of K1 and K1A1 tank. Important considerations in the tank are battle management system, automatic tracking system, automatic ammuition loading system, active defense system (soft-kill and hard-kill), navigation system, semi-active suspension unit, NBC overpressure system etc. The tank will be a main battle tank of the highest technical level all over the world.

The K-2 Black Panther tank is a follow-on to the country's K1 unit. With a top road speed of 44mph and able to ford through up to 13.5 feet of water using a snorkel, the official in charge of the project boasts that it has "more suberb capabilities than any other existing tank." Some of these "superb capabilities" include a special suspension that allows for three distinct configurations and downhill firing. The tracks are outfitted with rubber padding designed to be gentler to asphalt and concrete road surfaces. Its 1,500-horsepower engine can power the tank to 70 kilometers per hour on paved roads and 50 kilometers per hour off-road. The XK2 carries an estimated cost of $8.5-$8.8 million per vehicle - a US M1 Abrams latest model costs around $4.3 million.

The main armament of the tank includes a 12.7mm K-6 heavy machine gun, a 7.62mm coaxial machine gun, and an indigenous 120mm/55-caliber smooth-bore gun firing at 15 rounds per minute with better muzzle velocity than the 120mm/44-caliber gun equipping a K1A1. The automatic loader feature of the XK2 is a great innovation, which means that the tank crew of three is one man less than a normal tank crew of four.

Korea applied for the Turkish tank acquisition bid with its next-generation amphibious tanks codenamed "XK2," whose first three units were rolled out in May 2007. Under the project, Ankara was expected to produce more than 1,000 units in partnership with a selected firm. In early 2004, XK2's developer, Agency for Defense Development, invited Turkish defense officials to Korea so they could explain the quality of their new tanks. Later, Korea sent tank developers and defense officials to Turkey several times to promote the equipment.

In July 2008 South Korea signed a contract regarding the transfer of tank development technology with Turkey. The deal, valued at $400 million, is the nation's second largest arms export after a $1-billion license deal over the indigenous K-9 self-propelled howitzer, again with Turkey in 2001. Under the deal, South Korea would help Turkey develop a semi-indigenous main battle tank by 2015 through the transfer of its technology related to the design and development of K1A1 and XK2 tanks. South Korea will transfer key technologies regarding engine, gunnery and snorkeling systems to Turkey, which initially wants to build about 250 advanced main battle tanks.

Hyundai Rotem Company, an affiliate heavy industry company of the Hyundai Motor Group, signed a contract with Otokar(Kudret nen, CEO) on July 29th, to provide technical support and assistance for the Turkish new main battle tank program(ALTAY program). The technical support will be carried out until April 2015, to develop new main battle tanks for Turkey. Hyundai Rotem had participated in Turkey's long desired battle tank development program as a foreign technical support and assistance provider since 2006. The Agency for Defense Development (ADD) of Korea has also been involved in the project with Hyundai Rotem under the support of the Defense Acquisition Program Administration. In June 2008, Hyundai Rotem was selected as the preferred bidder among world's top tank builders such as KMW of Germany. After negotiating the terms of the technical support and assistance Hyundai Rotem entered into a contract with Turkey. The contract covered technical support and technology transfer for tank system, armor and main gun. Hyundai Rotem will also support the entire project process from tank design, production to testing, with the support of the Agency for Defense Development (ADD). But the deal to export K-2 Black Panther tanks to Turkey experienced difficulties due to defects in the domestically developed battle tank.

In December 2008 the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) planned to reduce the production of the country's indigenous main battle tanks due to budgetary constraints brought on by the global financial crisis. At a National Assembly session the agency made public a plan to downscale the budget by 1.8 trillion won to 3.9 trillion won for the production of 400 K2 Black Panther amphibious tanks, built by the state-run Agency for Defense Development and Hyundai Rotem, between 2009 and 2017. DAPA originally planned to produce about 600 K2 tanks. The agency proposed 14.4 billion won for the first phase manufacture of 100 tanks between 2011 and 2012. The tank was to be operational with the Army by 2010. About 680 K2s were to be produced beginning 2011 to replace the Army's K1 and aging M47/48 tanks.

Field trials began in July 2009 after fitting the vehicle with a domestically developed "power pack" comprised of a 1,500-horsepower, 12-cylinder diesel engine and transmission. Following more tests through June 2011, Hyundai Rotem was to produce 390 units for the South Korean Army - beginning in 2011 - to replace K1 and aging M48 Patton tanks. But a series of technical problems were detected in the local power pack in 2009 and hindered the original plan of starting the mass production of the K2 tank in 2011.

Concerning the K-2 tank project 2010 budget, only 33.2 billion won was earmarked out of the entire 88.2 billion won budget due to a defect having been identified in the power pack (engine plus transmission), thus delaying the commencement of its mass production. DAPA postponed the first deployment of the locally developed K2 tanks to December 2013 in an attempt to give domestic manufacturers a chance to succeed in making the power pack.

After several rounds of delay in its deployment, the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) said in April 2012 that it will import the key part from Germany for the first 100 units and deploy them in March 2014, citing issues regarding the local part's reliability and durability. But by November 2012 several faults were detected in the imported power pack, including the failure to start and stop a vehicle, oil leakage and excessive emission of exhaust, among others, in addition to its failure to meet the required fuel consumption standard.

South Korea is planning to complete deployment of 100 next-generation K-2 Black Panther tanks with locally produced engines and transmission systems by 2017, the country's Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) said 19 November 2014. "The K-2 battle tank will allow the military to have advanced combat vehicles with improved mobility and firepower fit for future environments," DAPA spokesperson Kim Si-cheol was quoted by Yonhap news agency as saying.

The first of the 100 K-2 tanks were put into service beginning in July 2014. The tank's development, which originally set the year 2011 as a target for deployment, was delayed due to its failure to meet the South Korean Defense Ministry's acceleration performance requirements. The deployment was possible after the standards were relaxed. "We can overcome numerical inferiority compared to North Korea with this high-quality battle tank, and we expect the K-2 to be actively exported to foreign markets," the spokesperson added.

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Page last modified: 31-01-2016 18:42:36 ZULU