South Korean Military Hardware Arrived in Poland: South Korea’s effort to become a military exporting powerhouse is slowly becoming a reality, and on Tuesday, the first batch of K2 Black Panther main battle tanks (MBTs) and K9A1 Thunder self-propelled howitzers arrived at the Polish port city of Gdynia.
Polish President Andrzej Duda was joined by Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak at an official ceremony to mark the arrival of the hardware. While taking delivery, the Polish leader hailed the swift implementation of a $5.8 billion deal that had only been signed this past summer. Duda further praised South Korea for being able to quickly respond to Poland’s call for hardware to increase its deterrence to Moscow.
“The quick pace of this delivery is of crucial importance in the face of Russian aggression and the war in Ukraine,” said Duda, adding, “This is the future, this is the real strengthening of Poland’s security.”
Duda made the remarks while standing before the tanks and the howitzers at the Polish port, and stated, “In order to stop aggression, to stop the enemy, it is necessary for the army to have this modern equipment.”
The first batch of military hardware included ten tanks along with twenty-four howitzers.
Poland’s Close Ties With South Korea
Warsaw signed the deal with Seoul this past July to boost its military capabilities, while it also supplied Ukraine with a sizeable number of T-72 and PT-92 MBTs, as well as Krab and Goździk howitzers.
Per the terms of the deal, South Korean-based Hyundai Rotem will supply Poland with 180 K2 MBTs by 2025 – and the delivery will also include a training/logistics package along with ammunition for the tanks.
During the second stage of the framework agreement, Warsaw is expected to receive 820 K2PL tanks, which will be manufactured within a framework of the Polish-Korean industrial cooperation, while a broad transfer of technologies is expected to occur.
A total of 672 K9A1/K9PL howitzers will further be delivered with a large quantity of ammunition, as well as maintenance/training packages through 2026. The initial twenty-four guns that arrived this week are set to be issued to the 11th “Mazurski” Artillery Regiment in the coming weeks.
The howitzers will be integrated into the Polish C2 network and are reported to be compatible with the Topaz fire control system. The second phase – which includes 460 K9PLs – will be manufactured within the Polish-Korean industrial cooperation.
Plans are already in place for hundreds more of the guns to be manufactured in Poland beginning in 2026 in cooperation with Polska Grupa Zbrojeniowa (PGZ), the largest Polish defense contractor and maker of the Krab self-propelled gun.
South Korea Delegation
Tuesday’s ceremony further highlights the close ties between the two nations – and it wasn’t just the Polish officials that were in attendance.
For the delivery of the equipment this week, South Korea’s Minister Eom Dong-hwan of the Defense Acquisition Program Administration; Deputy Minister Yoo Dong-joon of the Ministry of National Defense; Son Jaeil, President and CEO of Hanwha Aerospace; and Executive Vice President Lee Boo-hwan of Hanwha Aerospace’s Business in Europe, all traveled to Gdynia.
“The handover of K9PLs is a key milestone in the development of partnership between Hanwha Aerospace and the Government of Poland,” said Lee Boo-hwan, head of Hanwha Aerospace’s European business. “Meeting the requirements of the Polish Armed Forces is our top priority, and we’re proud of having produced and delivered the best-quality equipment to Poland so quickly.”
South Korea’s weapons exports have quickly increased in recent years, yet, the country has been building its arms industry for decades, spurred on by its troubled relationship with its northern neighbor.
Poland’s Defense Minister Blaszczak was quick to note that the newly arrived armaments were among the most advanced in the world.
“We want peace, so we are preparing for war,” the minister said, invoking the ancient Latin proverb.
A Senior Editor for 19FortyFive, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer. He has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,000 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes and Clearance Jobs. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu.