Hyundai Rotem proposed K2 Black Panther for Polish MBT requirement

Hyundai Rotem is offering Polish defense industry players the opportunity to jointly produce the K2PL main battle tank, a variant of its K2 Black Panther.

The South Korean company hopes it could benefit from the current lull in Warsaw’s talks with Berlin and Paris.

In fact there are two proposed options. First, Poland may develop its own tank with heavy South Korean input—similar to Turkey’s stalled Altay main battle tank project. Alternatively, and preferably from the Korean standpoint, Hyundai could manufacture K2PLs fitted with locally-built Polish components. Either way, the Polish firm would gradually take charge of a larger percentage of the project, while South Korea would in turn benefit from Polish support and expertise for its forthcoming K2B and notional XK3 tanks.

Last year, Poland’s Ministry of Defence declared it was ready to join the European Main Battle Tank project, an initiative spearheaded by Germany and France, but talks between the three countries have since stalled. A Polish military official told Defense News that Warsaw is unlikely to cooperate with Paris and Berlin on a joint tank program, and the Defence Ministry is looking for alternative partners.

“We’re open to cooperating with Polish companies, such as [the leading state-run group] PGZ. The tank would be produced in Poland, and we would provide Polish plants with our technology,” Lee Han-Soo, a senior manager at Hyundai Rotem’s global defense sales and marketing team, told Defense News at the MSPO defense industry show. “Production of this tank began a few years ago, and our technology is cutting-edge in comparison with our rivals’ products.”

The Polish land forces operate some 247 Leopard 2 A4 and A5 tanks acquired from the German Bundeswehr, but the country’s military urgently need to procure new gear to replace its Soviet-designed 500 T-72 and PT-91 tanks. Local observers said Warsaw could purchase up to 800 new tanks.

Poland’s plan to modernize its tank fleet is part of a regional trend. In the aftermath of Russia’s invasion on Ukraine and Moscow’s annexation of the Ukrainian Crimean peninsula in 2014, a number of Eastern European allies have launched similar efforts. Hyundai Rotem aims to offer the K2PL in other tenders across the region.

“We’re looking to offer our product in other tenders if the Czech Republic and Slovakia, and also other countries, decide to order new tanks,” Lee said. “This is why the Polish project is so important to us.”

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