Poland: major arms purchases from South Korea

By Defence Industry Europe staff

On 7 July 2022 in Warsaw, Polish Minister of National Defence Mariusz Błaszczak approved framework agreements related to the purchase of basic tanks, self-propelled howitzers and light combat aircraft from the Republic of Korea. The Korean defence industry companies will follow up the sale with technology transfer, with appropriate industrial facilities to be developed in Poland.

The Polish Ministry of Defence’s Armaments Agency was a party to these agreements along with three South Korean companies – Hyundai Rotem, which will supply K2-family tanks, Hanwha Defense, which will supply K9-family self-propelled howitzers, and Korean Aerospace Industries (KAI), which will supply FA50-family aircraft. Under the framework agreements, executive contracts will be signed to gradually implement each of the projects.

The first contract has been signed with Hyundai Rotem and involves the purchase of 1,000 K2 family tanks with associated vehicles such as technical protection vehicles, engineering support vehicles and accompanying bridges. These will be combined with Polish solutions, a training package (including simulators and personnel training in Korea and Poland), logistics, technical support and an ammunition stockpile.

Technology transfer is also envisaged to establish armour industrial capabilities in Poland. Initially, this will be a maintenance capability, with a view to launching production of the target K2PL version in Poland at a later stage.

The first batch of 180 Korean-configured K2 tanks will be delivered to Poland between 2022 and 2025. They will come from ongoing production at the Hyundai Rotem plant, originally planned for the armed forces of the Republic of Korea. Production of the remaining 820 K2PL tanks will begin in 2026, at which time production of these tanks in Poland will be launched. In the longer term, there are plans to jointly develop a next-generation tank, which is referred to by its working name of K3.

The second framework agreement was signed with Hanwha Defense – the manufacturer of K9 self-propelled howitzers. The Polish defence ministry plans to purchase 672 K9A1 and K9PL versions of the K9 howitzer, based on the K9A2. In addition to these, K10 ammunition vehicles and K11 command vehicles will be purchased. Again, Polish components will be used, including the Topaz integrated combat management system produced by WB Group.

The first batch of 48 K9A1 cannon howitzers is to be delivered between 2022 and 2023, with deliveries of 624 K9PL cannon howitzers to begin in 2024 and Polish-based production to start in 2026.

The last agreement signed with KAI involves the purchase of 48 FA50-family aircraft, with the first batch including 12 FA-50 Block 10 aircraft. Delivery is scheduled for the second half of 2023. In turn, the 36 remaining FA-50PLs, based on the Block 20 version, will be delivered from 2025, with deliveries spanning 2-3 years.

Polish-Korean cooperation is also possible in other areas. According to available information, Poland is interested in AS21 Redback heavy IFVs, wheeled armoured personnel carriers, the K239 Chunmoo rocket launcher, as well as the KF-21 Boramae new-generation multi-role aircraft.

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