Photo Credit: PAP/Leszek Szymanski
The Polish Ministry of Defense has announced that they will be purchasing 1,000 tanks, 600 units of artillery and several fighter jets from South Korea. The acquisition was made to replenish the country’s arsenal after donating them to Ukraine and aid Kyiv against the siege by Russian-backed militants.
Poland is about to receive a shipment containing some of the most powerful weapons in the South Korean army. The 648 self-propelled K9 howitzers will be an incredible asset for Poland, as well as the 960 tanks based off South Korea’s model which should provide more protection for the country if war breaks out. And the 48 FA-50 fighter jets should provide air cover for the country.
The defense ministry is mum on how much they paid for this acquisition.
The new tanks are expected to be received by Poland this year. They’re made at Hyundai Rotem’s factory and have 120mm guns mounted on them. Upgraded models of the tank will begin production in 2026 where they will be produced in Poland.
Meanwhile, K9 howitzers are on its way to Poland and expected to be acquired this year. The delivery for the additional 600 howitzers is expected in 2024 following 48 Hanwha Defense-made howitzers. By 2025 these military grade weapons will begin production at a Polish factory.
The ministry claims that they made this purchase in order to replace the Soviet-era tanks that they gave away to Ukraine. The initiative comes from the aim of helping Ukraine for its arms struggle against Russia.
In a Tweet, the Polish Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak said that the deal Poland had with South Korea would “significantly increase Poland’s security and the strength of the Polish Army.”
According to a South Korean retired general, Chun In-Bum, the recent deal that South Korea brokered is the biggest arms deal by Seoul in its history. Moreover, Chun commended the choice of machineries. “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,” he explained.
Poland needs the arms of South Korea
When the Polish defense minister visited South Korea last May, he found that Poland needed to acquire weapons from South Korea.
After seeing the South Korean army arsenal with his eyes, the Polish defense minister said, “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.”
Poland and South Korea shares a lot in common, such as their security situations. In conclusion they needed to have similar weapons for protection against invading forces, adds the defense minister.
“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,” he stated.
More considerations needed before purchase
Experts have debated whether or not the Polish government’s decision to buy a number of tactical weapons from South Korea was appropriate. Some say they need more information before making any decisions, while others question if this deal will be beneficial to the country because there may be a gap in technological advancements between South Korea and Poland’s neighboring countries.
For example, the K2 tank is inferior to the Leopard 2 battle-tank of the Germans, said Nicholas Drummond, a former British Army officer and a defense industry analyst. “Same gun. Same engine and gearbox. But overall less sophisticated with inferior electronic architecture. Not a bad tank. But not class of the field,” he said.
Moreover, there is a high chance that the production of the armories will be affected by supply chain disruptions if the conflict between Russia and Ukraine continues.
“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 added.
Opinions expressed by US Insider contributors are their own.