Is Poland the Trojan horse of the South Korean defense industry in Europe?

After having tried to seduce several European countries as well as the United States in order to develop the Polish defense industry without much success, Warsaw turned, in september 2020, towardsone of the most dynamic emerging Industrial Technological Defense Bases (BITD) in recent years, South Korea. The Polish Ministry of Defense initially wanted to find a less expensive alternative that could be delivered more quickly than the 250 M1A2 Abrams tanks ordered a few months earlier to replace so many T-72 tanks inherited from the Soviet era. , and since sent to Ukraine. In this area, the K2 Black battle tank Panther had many arguments to put forward, being both efficient, perfectly modern and half the price of its Western counterparts Abrams and Leopard 2. What's more, it could be delivered much more quickly to the Polish armies than German or American tanks.

It took almost two years for Warsaw and Seoul to agree on the subject, but also on a considerably extended industrial defense collaboration. Thus, if 180 K2 tanks and 212 K9A1 self-propelled guns ordered by Poland will actually be built in South Korea and delivered between 2022 and 2026, another 820 K2 tanks in an optimized Polish K2PL version, as well as 460 K9 self-propelled guns, and an as yet undetermined number of K239 multiple rocket launchers among the 300 ordered by Warsaw, will be assembled directly in Poland between 2026 and 2032. Similar cooperation seems to be emerging over fighter aircraft, Warsaw having ordered 48 FA-50 light fighters which will be assembled in South Korea, for delivery starting in 2023, while negotiating a partnership with KAI to produce the new KF21 Boramae fighter locally before the end of the decade.

KF21 Boramae first flight Analyzes Defense | Artillery | Fighter jets
Discussions are said to have started between Warsaw and Seoul about the KF-21 Boramae fighter

Polish orders for South Korean equipment, ie €13,5 billion, are already enabling the country's defense companies to record a spectacular increase in their annual turnover. It will also allow Poland to considerably develop its own defense industry, the country having already made significant investments in this field since 2015, in particular due to numerous technology transfers which will enable Warsaw not only to produce and maintain its own defense equipment, but also to offer them to its European neighbours, while the K2, like the K9, the K239 and the future KF21, all offer a very attractive price-performance ratio compared to European and American offers. In many ways, therefore, Warsaw can be seen as a South Korean Trojan horse in Europe vis-à-vis European defense industries, and many voices are already being raised to criticize the "non-European" choices of Poland in defence. As often, a more in-depth analysis of the context and the issues shows a much more nuanced situation than it seems.


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2 Comments

  1. […] It was initially a question for the Polish Ministry of Defense of finding a less expensive alternative that could be delivered more quickly than the 250 M1A2 Abrams tanks ordered a few months earlier to replace as many T-72 tanks inherited from the Soviet times, and since then sent to Ukraine. In this area, the K2 Black battle tank Panther had many arguments to put forward, being both efficient, perfectly modern and half the price of its Western counterparts Abrams and Leopard 2. What's more, it could be delivered much more quickly to the Polish armies than German or American tanks. READ MORE. […]

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