Economic Insider

Poland Procures Defense Machineries from South Korea

Mariusz B³aszczak, Jaeil Son
Photo Credit: Photo Credit: PAP/Leszek Szymanski

The Ministry of Defense in Poland has announced that they will be purchasing 1,000 tanks. 600 units of artillery and several fighter jets from South Korea. It is part of the country’s intention to replenish its arsenal after donating them earlier. This year when fighting broke out between Ukraine and Russia.

The Polish government has arranged to buy 648 self-propelled howitzers. 960 tanks that are based on the model of South Korea’s K2 and 48 FA-50 fighter jets from their ally. The deal is set to be publicized in Poland later this week. Following extensive negotiations with officials over price paid per unit as well other logistics such as shipping arrangements.

The Defense Ministry is refusing to disclose the price they paid for these new military equipments.

The first batch of K2 tanks is set to arrive this year. The 180 units manufactured by Hyundai Rotem, which have 120mm guns on them. The upgraded tanks will be available starting 2026, where they will be manufactured in Poland.

K9 howitzers arrive to Poland

The K9 howitzers will also arrive to Poland this year. 600 more are promised for delivery in 2024, while there are already 48 howitzers delivered – produced by Hanwha Defense.  In 2025, the machines will be produced in Poland.

The ministry announced that they had made an important purchase to replace the Soviet-era tanks that they relinquished. Then given to Ukraine to aid the country in its war against Russian forces.

Poland’s deal between the South Koreans would “significantly increase Poland’s security. The strength of the Polish Army,” said the Polish Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak in a Tweet.

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The recent closed deal would be Seoul’s largest arms deal to date, said a South Korean retired general, Chun In-Bum. He added that the artilleries that Poland plans to purchase would be great additions to the Polish military force. “The K9 (howitzer)… is probably the best artillery system in the world, rivaled only by the German system. The FA-50 is a combat version of the T-50. Which has gained a reputation for being the best trainer in the world inventory. The K2 tank in its latest version will be better than anything South Korea has to date,” Chun said.

Visit from last May prompted the purchase

The defense minister of Poland has come to the conclusion that his country needs more arms from South Korea after he visited the country last May.

“We talked about accelerating the deliveries of these weapons to the Polish Army. Why is it important? Because of the war on our eastern border. It is important for the Polish Armed Forces to be equipped with modern equipment, proven equipment, and such is the equipment produced by Korea,” he said after seeing the potency of South Korean weaponry.

Poland and Korea had a lot in common, including the need for strong defense. This similarity, according to the defense minister, is what made him conclude that Poland needs to acquire the weaponry from South Korea.

“Why is Korean equipment proven? Because Korea has the challenge of its northern neighbor, who also conducts an aggressive policy, so our task is to equip the Polish Armed Forces with modern equipment. Equipment that will deter the aggressor. Such equipment is undoubtedly … produced in Korea,” Blaszczak said.

Not the right fit for the European setting

Experts are questioning if the purchased items are the right fit for Poland, with some saying that what they need can’t be found in South Korea and others arguing that there is a gap between the advancements of South Korea and the neighboring countries of Poland.  

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For instance, the K2 tank from South Korea is weaker than Germany’s Leopard 2 battle tanks, said defense analyst Nicholas Drummond.

“Same gun. Same engine and gearbox. But overall less sophisticated with inferior electronic architecture. Not a bad tank. But not class of the field,” added the retired British Army officer.

The production of the planned armories may be affected by the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine, which has caused supply chain disruptions in the Asia Pacific region.

“It is right that Asian countries buy from Korea as these customers can easily be supported in time of war. But supporting European customers in an emergency is likely to be more challenging,” Drummond stated.

Source: CNN

Opinions expressed by Economic Insider contributors are their own.


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