The South Korean K2 Black Panther Tank

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K2 Black Panther Tank

The South Korean K2 Black Panther Tank Description and Service

The South Korean K2 Black Panther Tank aka K-2 entered ROKA service in July 2014. 100 have built by Hyundai Rotem Co. and later in December the company signed a second order to deliver additional K2 Black Panthers to the army by 2017. The K2 Black Panther offers greater protection, firepower, crew comfort and mobility over the current K1-A1 and T-80U tanks in service with the ROKA and will allow ageing Patton and K1 tanks to be retired from service.

k2 black panther
The South Korean K2 Black Panther Tank

K2 Black Panther Tank Exports

The K2 Black Panther design and technology has been used in a licensing dealing between Hyundai Rotem Co. and Turkish manufacturer Otokar for Turkeys new Altay Tank, which is now ready for production. The company is planning to take part in the 2015 International Defence Exhibition & Conference to be held in the United Arab Emirates in February to attract exports in the Middle East as well as North Africa.

K2 Black Panther Tank Development Timeline

The South Korean K2 Black Panther Tank – Click To Enlarge

1995 – The design phase started. The new design had to include state-of-the-art domestic technologies. The budget for this phase was approximately US$230 million.

2006 – The final design was completed and ready for a limited production run for field trials.

2007 – 3 vehicles are manufactured by the principal contractor Hyundai Rotem.

2009 – Field trials during the summer start with main production scheduled in 2011 of 390 vehicles using a 1500hp engine developed by Hyundai Rotem and S&T Heavy Industries.

December 2009 – During The National Assembly (Korea’s parliament) slashed 50 billion from the proposed 88.2 billion funding for producing the new tanks.

Defence Minister Kim Tae-young admitted to the problems with the K2 power pack, which is comprised of a 1500-horsepower, 12-cylinder diesel engine and transmission (developed and manufactured by Doosan Infracore and S&T Heavy Industries).

“The K2 program will be delayed by one year, but the production of 100 tanks in 2014 will be possible,” Kim said.

November 2010 – During November the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) who have been running the K2 project announced “We’ve been informed that all the minor glitches of the K2 power pack have been taken care of and now there are no problems,” the official said. “We’ll sign a production deal with manufacturers concerned as soon as possible.”

The South Korean K2 Black Panther Tank – Click To Enlarge

January 2012 – During January DAPA announced it will delay the production of the K2 Black Panther main battle tank for another half a year in order to carry out field tests in early 2014.

April 2012 – During April it was announced by DAPA that “We have decided to delay our plan to use a home grown power-pack due to problems identified over its reliability and durability,” they continued to say “We have concluded that it will be difficult to fix the problems in time for the planned deployment.”

The new engine would be installed on the first 100 manufactured K2’s and deployed to the Army in March 2014. The new engine selected was the German MTU-890. In protest against the DAPA’s decision, a group of people involved in the project asked for an inspection into the decision to use the German engine.

November 2012 – It was announced that the Board of Audit and Inspection (BAI) had carried out a one month audit in to DAPA’s decision to use the MTU-890 engine.

The audit uncovered that DAPA falsely wrote up reports and covered up several faults which were detected in the MTU engine, including the failure to start and stop a vehicle, oil leakage and excessive emission of exhaust, among others, in addition to its failure to meet the required fuel consumption standard and that the engine missed several tests.

It also discovered that the agency exaggerated the flaws detected during its test on the local power pack and ignored experts’ opinion.

BAI went on to say “We’ve asked the agencies concerned, including DAPA, to come up with measures to reconsider the decision to use the German power pack after comprehensively reviewing details of candidate products including their capabilities and prices,” and concluded that “Disciplinary measures for three people responsible for masterminding the unfair process should be taken”.

2013 – The Joint Chiefs of Staff lowered the bar for its acceleration performance, and production commenced

The South Korean K2 Black Panther Tank Specifications

The South Korean K2 Black Panther Tank – Click To Enlarge

Crew: 3
Combat Weight: 55 tonne (55,000kg)
Size: Length 10.6m Width 3.6m Height 2.4m
Ground Clearance: 0.45m


Top Road Speed: 70km/h
Top Cross Country Speed: 50km/h
Underwater Fording: 4.1m
Engine: 1500hp Diesel (MTU & Domestic)
Transmission: Automatic (x5 Forward, x3 Reverse)
Suspension: In-arm Suspension Unit
Dynamic Track Tension System


Main Gun: 120mm Calibre Length 55 Smoothbore
Ammunition Carried: x40 120mm rounds
Secondary Weapons: 12.7mm MG & 7.62mm MG


The South Korean K2 Black Panther Tank – Click To Enlarge

Armour: Composite Ceramics & Explosive Reactive Armour
NBC Protection
Active Protection System: Soft or Hard kill
Fire System: Fire suppression in crew compartment
Smoke Grenade Launchers: x2 banks each x6 launcher tubes
Autoloader separated from crew compartment & fitted with Blow out Panels

Fire Control System

Gunners Sight: Day/night (Thermal) channels, stabilized
Commanders Panoramic Sight: Day/night (Thermal) channels, stabilized
Full Hunter Killer Capability
Auto Target Detection and Tracking
Electrical Turret drive and Main Gun stabilization


GPS navigation
C4I Battlefield Management System with full crew displays
Air Conditioning For Crew