Resumption of construction of the K2 Black tank Panther in South Korea

For the past twenty years, South Korea has undertaken an ambitious plan aimed at becoming a major player in the global defense industry. The country in fact spends nearly $10 billion each year on the acquisition of equipment, and its leaders have bet on the “Asian preference” to support its export equipment.

20 years later, the bet has been won for Seoul. The national industry produces a large part of the range of main modern defense equipment, ranging from the AIP submarine to the aircraft carrier, from the battle tank to the IFV, from the attack and training aircraft to the program of 5th generation fighter, without forgetting a significant number of missiles, torpedoes, guided shells and drones. And export successes did not take long to arrive, in the form of direct exports, such as the T50 Golden Eagle training and attack aircraft, used in Thailand, the Philippines and Indonesia, from cooperation industrial, such as the Jose Rizal frigates under construction for the Philippine Navy or the Indonesian Nagapasa class submarines, and in industrial support, such as the Turkish Altay battle tank, built with significant South Korean technology transfers.

Among all these successful programs, the K2 Black battle tank Panther appeared to be the exception that proved the rule. If the prototypes had been satisfactory, and justified the order of nearly 250 examples in two “matches” at the beginning of 2014, they were powered by an engine and transmission unit of German origin. The production models of the K2 were to be equipped with the local Doosan Infracore DV27K diesel engine developing 1500 hp, and an S & T Dynamics EST15K automatic transmission. Unfortunately, the development of these two crucial elements took much longer than initially planned, and the K2 program had to be stopped in 2017, pending a satisfactory industrial response. In fact, the resumption of deliveries of the new South Korean tank, announced on May 27 during a ceremony bringing together industrialists, the military and politicians, confirms reports according to which the driving elements were now reliable and compliant with State requirements. -major.

This good news is also good for Turkey, whose new Altay battle tank depended greatly on the progress of the South Korean project. As with the K2, the Atlas was developed with a German propulsion unit and transmission, and as with the Korean tank, the specifications provided for complete strategic autonomy in the construction of the new tank, especially since Qatar announced in March 2019 its intention to order 100 examples of the Turkish tank.

South Korea, like Turkey, or Japan, now appear as important players in the global defense industry, further swallowing up a market already under tension between American ambitions, the return to power of Russia, and the arrival of China. A situation comparable to that which took place in the 50s, and which saw the rapid appearance and disappearance of numerous players, for a restructuring of the sector which lasted 50 years.

In fact, the extreme dependence of European and French defense industries on exports risks constituting a major risk for their sustainability in the medium term.

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