South Korean defence prime Hyundai Rotem has taken the opportunity at the DX Korea 2018 land forces exhibition to showcase a desert-optimised version of its 56-tonne K2 ‘Black Panther’ main battle tank (MBT), revealing its aim to position the vehicle for opportunities in the Middle East.
The K2 MBT on display was painted in desert camouflage and brought to an undisclosed location in the region for mobility and firing trials in early 2018, Hwan Cho, General Manager of the Global Defense and Marketing Team, told Jane’s on 14 September.
Cho noted that only minor modifications were required to adapt the K2 to the hot and sandy environment. These included additional dust covers, a turret shade, and an additional heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system installed on the turret bustle to augment the existing unit in the hull.
“These adaptations have enabled us to achieve our testing aims, but we will of course need to further customise the vehicle to meet specific customer performance requirements and incorporate their own systems,” he said, noting that there has so far been no firm orders despite strong interest from “several countries”.
While Hyundai Rotem declined to provide details on domestic production, South Korea is expected to order more than 600 K2 MBTs to replace its ageing inventories of M48 Patton tanks and earlier models of the in-service K1 MBT. With the second production contract for the Republic of Korea Army (RoKA) already in force, the company is stepping up international marketing efforts in pursuit of export opportunities for the K2.
“Hyundai Rotem has been promoting the K2 MBT worldwide,” a company spokesperson told Jane’s . “Our main target markets are the Middle East, South America, Asia, and Africa, which have high demand for MBT capabilities.
“The company [supports] localisation of the vehicles and providing technical support and assistance for indigenous tank development besides exporting the completed vehicle,” the spokesperson added.
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