Photo Credit: PAP/Leszek Szymanski
Poland has bought 1,000 tanks, 600 units of artillery and several fighter jets from South Korea to replenish their arsenal after donating them in aid to Kyiv for Ukraine’s fight against Russian-backed militants, the Polish Ministry of Defense announced.
Poland will be receiving a shipment of 960 tanks, 648 self-propelled K9-armored howitzers and 48 FA-50 fighter jets from South Korea. The weapons will be central to strengthen Poland’s military as it takes on defending its borders against external threats. The announcement should be made clear to the citizens of Poland come Wednesday.
The Defense Ministry is remaining tight-lipped about the cost of this purchase.
The first batch of K2 tanks is set to arrive this year! The 180 units manufactured by Hyundai Rotem are loaded with 120mm guns. Upgraded versions will be produced in Poland starting 2026.
This year, the first batch of K9 howitzers will arrive to Poland. They are expected to be followed by 600 more howitzers in 2024 following an initial delivery of 48 howitzers made by Hanwha Defense. Fast forward to 2025, Poland will now be the ones producing these howitzers inside its borders.
The ministry said that they had to replace the Soviet-era tanks they had given to Ukraine for its arms struggle against Russia.
In a Tweet, the Polish Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak said that the country’s deal between the South Koreans would “significantly increase Poland’s security and the strength of the Polish Army.”
The recently brokered deal would become Seoul’s biggest deal relating to weapons yet. This is according to Chun In-Bum, a retired general from South Korea. He added that the weapons chosen by Poland is one-of-its-kind. “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 stated.
‘We need to acquire arms from South Korea’
The defense minister of Poland discovered that his country needed more arms from South Korea after he visited the country last May.
He said during his visit, “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.”
It is imperative for countries under the same security situation to have similar weapons if they want to defend their territory, added 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,” Blaszczak said.
South Korean weaponry may not be the right fit
Experts have questioned if the Polish’s need for weapons can really be found in South Korea. Others believe it’s an ideal fit with Europe, but there are still plenty who disagree and think that more research in relation to setting needs to take place before making such decisions.
The K2 tank, which is currently planned to be purchased by the Polish Defense Minister and manufactures in South Korea is subservient to Germany’s Leopard 2 battle tanks, said Nicholas Drummond, a former British Army officer.
“Same gun. Same engine and gearbox. But overall less sophisticated with inferior electronic architecture. Not a bad tank. But not class of the field,” added the defense industry analyst.
The ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine may cause supply chain disruptions, affecting the production of these planned armories in later stages.
“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.