South Korea’s plans to produce additional Hyundai Rotem K2 (Black Panther) main battle tanks (MBTs) have been delayed three years due to technical issues with the platform’s indigenously developed transmission system, the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) has said.
In an audit submission to the defence committee of the South Korean National Assembly on 13 October, DAPA said the mass production of the additional 100 K2s is now expected to be complete by 2020. Under the initial schedule, announced in late 2014, the production of the second batch of MBTs production was expected to conclude in 2017.
In comments reported by local news agencies, DAPA said in its submission that the schedule had been delayed due to reliability and durability issues related to the K2’s transmission system. DAPA said it is now looking to procure a transmission system from a foreign contractor.
The second batch of K2s feature a powerpack consisting of a 1,500hp Doosan DST engine and transmission developed by S&T Dynamics. An initial batch of 100 K2s – ordered in 2011 with deliveries commencing in 2014 – were fitted with the German MTU 883 diesel engine and Renk transmission system.
In December 2014 Hyundai Rotem signed a KRW901.5 billion (then USD820 million) contract to supply the additional K2 MBTs to the Republic of Korea Army (RoKA). In total, the RoKA is expected to order more than 600 K2 MBTs to replace its ageing inventories of US-made M47 Patton tanks and older versions of the K1 MBT, which have been in service since the 1980s. The K1 and an updated version of the tank, the K1A1, were also produced by Hyundai Rotem.
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