Hyundai Rotem, an affiliate of the Hyundai Motor Group, is developing the K2 Black Panther main battle tank (MBT) for the Republic of Korea Army (ROKA). The MBT is intended to provide improved performance in the 21st century network battle environment by employing improved ergonomics and digitalisation.
Rotem introduced the vehicle along with its wheeled armoured vehicles and unmanned weapon systems at the Seoul Aerospace and Defence Exhibition (ADEX) at the Seoul Airport in Seongnam City, Kyeonggi Province, in October 2009. The tank is expected to enter into service in 2014.
The K2 Black Panther is a new type of high tech battle tank and will replace K1 series of vehicles and M48 tanks. The new MBT features enhanced mobility and fire power compared to the K1 vehicles, and is regarded as one of the best main battle tanks in the world.
The K2 Black Panther development
The K2 MBT design was completed in 2006. Rotem signed a co-operation agreement in March 2011 with the subcontractors of K2 MBT and provided KRW12.8bn ($12m) to solve the financial difficulties caused by delays in the mass production of the vehicles.
Rotem signed a contract with the subcontractors in November 2011 to offer emergency operating funds totalling KRW3bn ($2.65m). The mass production of K2 MBTs was further delayed due to technical defects in engines and transmission.
In July 2008, Rotem signed a technology cooperation deal with Otokar to provide technology systems of the K2 MBT for the development of Turkey’s Altay Main Battle Tank. The first prototype of the Altay MBT is expected to be ready by 2015.
Rotem will provide the main equipment for Altay upon completion of the K2 MBT’s development.
The K2 Black Panther design and features
The K2 Black Panther MBT has a crew of three members including commander, gunner and driver. The vehicle is 10.8m long, 3.6m wide and 2.4m in height. The ground clearance of the vehicle is 0.45m and the combat weight is 55t.
Armament of the K2 Black Panther
The main armament of the K2 Black Panther is a 120mm L/55 smoothbore gun with automatic loader. The autoloader ensures the loading of projectiles on the move even when the vehicle moves on uneven surfaces. The 120mm gun can fire about 10 rounds per minute.
The secondary armament of the tank includes a 12.7mm heavy machine gun and a 7.62mm machine gun.
Sensors and other systems of K2 Black Panther
The K2 Black Panther is equipped with auto target detection and tracking system, and hunter killer function. It also features electric gun and turret driving system (28-260VDC) provided by Doosan Corporation Mottrol.
The gunner’s primary sight (GPS) and commander’s panoramic sight (CPS) are stabilised in two axes, and include a thermal imager and laser rangefinder enabling day / night observation.
The vehicle is fitted with an air-conditioning system and embedded training and built-in test system. The navigation system consists of a global positioning system and an inertial navigation system. The K2 MBT also has a battlefield management system connected with the C4I system.
Self-protection of the South Korean MBT
The K2 MBT is fitted with Composite Armour and Explosive Reactive Armour (ERA). It also consists of a collective nuclear, biological and chemical (NBC) protection system. The ammunition compartment is equipped with a blow-off panel for protecting the crew against the explosion of ammunition.
An active protection system is installed on the MBT to provide protection against anti-tank rockets and missiles. It includes soft and hard kill systems.
The K2 Panther is also protected by a fire suppression system. The vehicle has two banks of smoke grenades, each with six launchers. It is also provided with identification friend or foe (IFF) system.
K2 Black Panther MBT engine and mobility
The K2 Black Panther is powered by a MT 833 diesel engine from Tognum. The engine generates 1,500hp and provides a power to weight ratio of 27.3hp/t. The fully automatic transmission of the vehicle includes five forward and three reverse gears.
The vehicle has an in-arm suspension Unit (ISU), which enables the tank to successfully manoeuvre on soft soil and terrains with obstacles. The MBT has an off-road speed of 50km/h and can attain a maximum speed of 70km/h on road. It can traverse a maximum range of 450km on road and ford at a depth of 4.1m in water.
The vehicle is also equipped with a dynamic track tension system (DTTS) as well as roll, pitch and bounce control system.
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