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Hyundai Rotem Explores Market for K2 Black Panther

Hyundai Rotem is looking at markets in Europe, the Middle East and in Asia Pacific region for its K2 Black Panther after it has re-commenced mass production of the main battle tanks (MBTs).

The South Korean defence manufacturer has already delivered two of the over 100 second batch of tanks ordered by the Republic of Korea Army (RoKA). Production of the remaining tanks is expected to be completed by 2021. The first batch of 100 units have already been delivered, a defence system research team member of Hyundai Rotem tells Daily News on the sidelines of the ongoing ADEX 2019.

The second batch of K2 serial tanks of 106 units, ordered by Defense Acquisition Programme Administration (DAPA) as an option to the contract of December 29, 2014, are powered by new hybrid powerpack of South Korea engine and German transmission.

“The tanks are designed to lead the future combat environments. They have truly incorporated the latest technologies and excellent functions such as the digital battle management system connected with the C4I (Command, Control, Communication, Computer & Intelligence) System,” says an official.

The Korean government is also considering a follow-on contract for a third batch of K2 MBTs. “We expect this to happen in the near future,” he says, without revealing any numbers.

The ROKA has a requirement for over 600 K2 tanks complementing its K1 MBT force and replacing its aging fleet of M48 Patton MBTs. With the resumption of mass production, the company is also looking at exporting the main battle tanks. In 2018, the company unveiled a desert version of the K2 Black Panther, with an eye to capture the Middle Eastern market.

“Several countries in the Middle East have shown keen interest in the main battle tank,” he adds.

The company has made several modifications for the tanks meant for the Middle East market.

“To face the extreme hot conditions, we have built an additional air conditioning system in the turret, and we have fitted the tracks with heat resistant rubber, additional remote-control weapon systems, and 360-degree situational awareness system as per the users’ requirement. The desert version tanks were tested in Oman last year,” he informs.

“These tanks have the same transmission, but we have increased the pulling system,” he adds. It was reported earlier that Hyundai Rotem is looking to sell over 75 MBTs to Oman, through a deal that could reach an amount up to US$884.6 million. The government of Oman had floated a tender to acquire 76 main battle tanks and the supplier is expected to be selected by the end of 2019. The South Korean company is also eyeing an Indian requirement for about 2000 units of Future Ready Combat Vehicles (FRCVs).

The Indian Army as part of its modernisation plans is keen on a FRCV which is similar to the Russian T-14 Armata, Ukrainian Oplot, French LeClerc and the K2 Black Panther main battle tanks, to replace its old fleet of about 2,400 Soviet-origin T-72 tanks. The company has already responded to India’s Request for Information issued in November 2017, which specified that the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) should offer technology transfer, the platform should have 40 per cent indigenous con- tent, and create ecosystems, life cycle costs and upgrade plans to build locally. If all goes as per the schedule, the FRCVs are expected to enter service between 2025-27.

Last year, a Polish firm H. Cegielski – Poznań announced at a defense exposition in Kielce that it was partnering with the Korean firm to offer the Polish Army a K2PL “Wolf” variant of the Black Panther. Hanwha Defense Systems, formerly known as Doosan DST, developed a 1,500hp engine for the K2 Black Panther, co-developed by the state-funded Agency for Defense Development and Hyundai- Rotem.

The batch-two mass production project was signed in 2014 and should have been completed by 2017. But the business was suspended for more than two years because the domestic trans- mission failed to pass durability tests.

“However, the ministry of national defense decided to combine the domestic K2 engine with a German transmission system. And this helped the K2 to pass the driving trials and cold-start trials at the beginning of this year without any abnormality,” the official says.

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