Monday, March 4, 2024

Poland to order 180 K2 tanks, 670 K9 guns and 48 FA-50 fighter jets from South Korea

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Since the start of the Russian attack in Ukraine, Germany, Great Britain and France have been competing with declarations and projects to equip themselves with the largest European conventional armed force, the best army or the best Marine. But in fact, in February 2022, the largest conventional land armed force in Europe was neither French, British or German, but Polish. Indeed, Warsaw then fielded 750 Leopard 2A4, PT-91 and T-72 combat tanks, as well as 1,500 BWP-1 and KTO Rosomak infantry fighting vehicles, nearly 500 Krab, Dana, Godzik and Rak self-propelled guns, as well as nearly 200 Grad, RM-70 and Langusta multiple rocket launcher systems, for a land force of 175,000 men, and intends to increase its resources with the ambition of increasing from 4 to 6 divisions by 2035 . Although equipped with often old equipment inherited from the Warsaw Pact era, Poland therefore had a land force substantially equivalent in numerical terms to those of the British, German and French armies combined, while the country does not have a GDP than $600 billion and a population of 39 million inhabitants, compared to the more than 210 million inhabitants and $9,000 billion of the three largest European economies.

Due to its significant reserves of weapons, and the nature of many of its heavy equipment close to that in service in the Ukrainian armies, Warsaw has been, since the start of the conflict, the most important European contributor to the support of the armies of Kyiv, including the transfer of its 250 T-72s , more than 20 2S1 Gozdzik artillery systems, 18 Krab self-propelled guns and more than twenty Grad systems, as the country prepares to deliver its 250 PT-91 Twardy tanks which will be replaced by some 300 second-hand M1A1 Abrams acquired urgently from the United States. In addition, Warsaw has already announced numerous programs aimed at modernizing its forces, such as the order of 250 M1A2 Abrams heavy tanks , 120 Himars rocket launchers and 35 F-35 fighter jets from the United States, as well as new frigates to Great Britain , and AW149 maneuvering helicopters to Italy . For several months, Warsaw has also been negotiating with Seoul a defense industrial partnership described as ambitious , after having already collaborated on the design of the 155mm Krab self-propelled gun. According to the South Korean press , these negotiations would have resulted in the largest export contract in the South Korean defense industry, Warsaw having ordered 180 K2 Black Panther with an option for 400 additional examples, as well as 670 self-propelled guns K9 and 48 FA-50 light attack aircraft, all for an amount estimated at more than 19,000 billion Won, or nearly €15 billion.

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Poland is preparing to deliver its approximately 250 PT-91 tanks derived from the T-72 to the Ukrainian forces

From an operational point of view, this exceptional order naturally makes sense. The K2 Black Panther tank is a very modern 55-ton medium tank, with high-performance armament, reinforced protection including an active protection system, as well as more than satisfactory mobility with a power ratio of 27 hp per ton. Although it does not offer certain capabilities of the most modern Western tanks such as the Abrams M1A2 SepV3, the Leopard 2A7 or the Challenger 3, it is however lighter by almost 15 tonnes, thus displaying greater mobility and lower fuel consumption. less, and above all turns out to be significantly cheaper, with a unit price of around $8 million, compared to almost double for European and American heavy tanks. The fact is, for the first 180 units ordered by Warsaw, the bill will amount to 3,000 billion won, or €2.25 billion, for a unit price of €12.5 million per armored vehicle, this including technology and industrial transfers. and support. For comparison, the 250 M1A2 Abrams ordered by Warsaw in Washington were sold for €4.6 billion, without industrial transfer, i.e. a unit price close to €18.5 million, 50% more than the K2 Black Panther .

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