Polish partnership shows strength of South Korean defense firms, says GlobalData

Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Poland has been busy in the defense market with plans being drawn to collaborate with South Korea’s Hyundai Rotem for a licenced production variant of the K2 Black Panther tank, tentatively named ‘K2PL’, says GlobalData. The leading data and analytics company notes that an EU nation choosing suppliers outside of typical European or American offerings is significant.

James Marques, Aerospace, Defense and Security Analyst at GlobalData, comments: “Poland also intends to buy South Korean K9 self-propelled howitzers from Hanwha Defense, as their AHS Krabs have been donated to Ukraine. Those vehicles were themselves a partnership between Poland’s Huta Stawola Wola and Hanhwa, demonstrating Seoul’s growing position in European markets as Poland joins four other European nations in ordering the K9.”

South Korea’s circumstances with a hostile North Korea spurred it to lessen its reliance on US products and develop a domestic defense industry in the 70’s. Indigenous firms now produce a majority of the military’s equipment and began to sign lucrative deals in Europe and MENA in the 2010’s. Major customers now include Poland, Turkey, Estonia, Norway and possibly the UK as it also eyes K9s to replace ageing AS90s. If Poland’s MBT deal goes through, the South Korean defense industry will hit the milestone of equipping a major NATO land power’s main offensive force. It is a large step up from only exporting $31 million worth of armoured vehicles between 2013 and 2017.

James continues: “Poland’s defense minister remarked that Korean equipment is ‘proven’ and there is already a strong industrial partnership. Hanwha also recently signed a deal to develop IFVs and long-range fire support with Norway’s Kongsberg, demonstrating their confidence and increased activity in European markets.”

GlobalData foresees sales of self-propelled artillery alone being worth $3.4 billion by 2032 and Hyundai tanks for Poland may be a foot in the door for more serious competition from Korea in European defense.

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