At MSPO 2020 Defense exhibition in Poland, the South Korean Company Hyundai Rotem unveils a scale model of the K2PL Main Battle Tank, a South Korean variant the K2 Black Panther tailored for the Polish army. In January 2020, “The Korea Times” newspaper website has announced that the South Korean Company Hyundai Rotem could sign a deal with the Polish government to develop and produce 800 K2 Black Panther main battle tanks (MBTs).
South Korean Company Hyundai Rotem presents a scale model of K2PL main battle tank at MSPO 2020, defense exhibition in Poland, September 9, 2020. (Picture source Twitter account Rafal Surdacki)
The K2 Black Panther is the latest generation of Main Battle Tank (MBT) developed by the South Korean defense company Hyundai Rotem for the Korean armed forces. The K2 was unveiled for the first time to the public during the Defense Exhibition ADEX at the Seoul Airport in October 2009. The mass production of the tank started in 2013 and the first K2 MBTs were entered in service with the South Korean army in 2014.
The main armament of the K2 Black Panther consists of a German-made Rheinmetall 120-mm/ L55 smoothbore gun produced under license in South Korea. The gun is fitted with an automatic loader with 16 rounds ready to fire and 24 rounds are stored inside the hull. The second armament includes one 7.62 mm coaxial machine gun mounted to the left side of the main armament. A 12.7 mm K-6 heavy machine gun is mounted on the top right of the turret.
The layout of the K2 MBT is conventional, with the driver's compartment at the front, fighting compartment in the center, and engine and transmission at the rear. The armor on the Black Panther consists of an unknown type of composite armor and an Active Defense System utilizing Explosive Reactive Armor blocks. The K2 has a crew of three with a driver at the front center of the hull and commander and gunner in the turret.
According to our first analysis, the design of the K2PL includes a new armor package mounted around the turret as well as on the side of the hull. The roof of the turret is fitted with a remotely operated weapon station armed with a 12.7mm machine gun. The main armament seems to be the same.
To increase the protection of the tank against RPG (Rocket Propelled Grenades) threats, the rear side of the hull is fitted with a wire cage armor. The roof the turret is also equipped with an APS (Active Protection System) designed to counter antitank guided missiles (ATGM), but not high velocity, high explosive (HE) or kinetic energy (KE) tank-fired munitions.
The K2PL is powered by a 1,500 hp Diesel engine coupled to an automatic transmission with five forward and three reverse gears. The suspension of the K2PL consists of seven road wheels instead of six on the original K2. It can run at a maximum speed of 70 km/h with a maximum cruising range of 450 km.