K2 tank will be forgotten, see South Korea’s new stealth tank

SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA — The following fact must be recognized – the war in Ukraine activated the development of tracked and ground combat vehicles. Successes and failures on the battlefield are tracked. They serve to discover new concepts aimed at improving the combat capability and efficiency of today’s combat vehicles. Or for the creation of completely new ones. Such is the case with South Korea’s new stealth tank.

K2 tank will be forgotten, see South Korea's new stealth tank
Photo credit: Hyundai Rotem

Regionally, South Korea will have to counter North Korea. Seoul has already begun phasing out obsolete ground systems. M-series tanks and Russian-made T-series tanks that have been in service for 40 years are now being replaced by K2 tanks. K2 considered the most modern and combat-ready tank in the world can be forgotten soon.

Hyundai Rotem stealth tank

Hyundai Rotem is developing a new tank. The company presented a concept of a next-generation tank, which should be put into practical use in 2030. The next-generation tank, which has a stealth design that is not detected by the enemy, is equipped with a 130 mm smoothbore gun and has increased power of the attack.

The radius of action has been extended by using multi-purpose drones and missiles, and the number of crew members has been reduced by using an unmanned turret.

K2 tank will be forgotten, see South Korea's new stealth tank
Photo credit: Hyundai Rotem

It is made to enable autonomous driving and remote control through the technology of the 4th industrial revolution. A tank with a crew member can scout and attack enemy forces while remotely piloting the unmanned tank. It is also equipped with equipment to neutralize improvised explosive devices that the enemy will install on the roads.

Mobility is increased by a hydrogen-based electrification device and an active suspension device, and reactive armor is added to the sides of the tank to improve protection.

Light tank concept?

Information about the new Stet Tank is still scarce. A new one is yet to arrive as the end of the decade approaches. But according to experts, Hyundai Rotem’s new stealth tank looks more like a light tank concept.

Some even made a direct connection between Poland’s ordered K2 tanks and Poland’s PL-01 light tank concept. The similarities in design are many and it is possible that South Korea cooperated with Poland on this development. The deal between South Korea and Poland for the acquisition of K2 tanks may include the PL-01 project, which will be taken over by South Korea. However, this is only a guess – there is no information that this is a fact.

K2 tank will be forgotten, see South Korea's new stealth tank PL-01
Photo credit: Polish MoD

South Korea has no involvement in the PL-01 concept. This is an idea of the Polish OBRUM developed together with BAE Systems. The PL-01 is based on the Swedish CV90120-T light tank. It was first introduced ten years ago.

K2 will undergo modernization

A plan was also proposed to improve the characteristics of the K2 tank used by the mechanized units of the Ground Forces. Just as countries around the world continue to improve the performance of tanks by applying the latest technology while reflecting on the lessons of the war in Ukraine, South Korea must systematically improve the performance of the K2 tank from the planning stage.

Specifically, the active defense system will be strengthened given the precedent that a significant number of Russian tanks during the Ukraine war were attacked and destroyed by anti-tank missiles while advancing without any active defense system.

Korea, Poland to make K2PL tanks based on 120mm Black Panther
Photo credit: Creative Commons

A remote fire control system [RCWS] is installed, which prevents the crew from leaving the tank and firing. The front special armor has been improved, a 360-degree situational awareness system has been provided, and the sight and the turret drive system have been improved. When a multi-layer defense system is added to block drone and anti-tank missile attacks, the safety of the K2 tank is further enhanced.

K2 multi-layer defense system

The multi-layered defense system, for which an operational concept study was conducted last year, takes the form of subdividing threat response measures against armored vehicles by distance. Cost-effectiveness is increased by connecting to new equipment while using sensors and weaponry mounted on tanks and armored vehicles.

If a drone or missile is detected by radar at a distance of up to 8 km, they are identified by optical equipment at a distance of 5 km. When approaching less than 2 km, they are neutralized with machine guns, means of active protection, and means of disruption.


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