S.Korea’s Locally-made 1500-HP Tank Engine Ready for Launch, Eyes Exports

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South Korea’s locally-made 1500 HP engine for its K2 battle tank is ready for launch and could be exported to the Middle East and Europe.

Developed by the government’s Agency for Defence Development (ADD), the 1500 horsepower powertrain is the third such product in the world after Germany and the United States, Wang Jung-hong, chief of South Korean Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA), revealed in an interview with Korea Herald earlier this week.

“Some rules have hampered a product launch, but we’ve cleared that up now,” he said, noting the agency was eyeing countries in Europe and the Middle East as potential customers for the locally manufactured component.

The engine will form the basis for the powerplant of Turkey’s Altay main battle tank (MBT) and the progress on the engine should be good news for Turkey’s defence industry directorate which is planning to manufacture over 500 tanks and is also talking to Indonesia to export these machines.

Poland is another likely customer for these engines. In January 2020, local reports stated that the Polish government was looking to place an order for 800 K2 MBTs from Hyundai Rotem.

South Korea has a domestically assembled modified Abrams tank, the K1. It is powered by a diesel, rather than a gas turbine engine.

Since Seoul owns very little of the technology behind the K1, it set out to develop the K2 Black Panther, taking inspiration from technology worldwide, in order to be able to export the machines.

From France, South Korea adopted its own version of the Leclerc’s autoloader besides incorporating Thales fire control system. From Germany, the country developed its own version of the Rheinmetall 120-millimeter L55 gun and looked into MTU-890 V12 diesel 1,500 horsepower engine. According to a report by National Interest, domestically designed engine has slightly worse acceleration versus the MTU — 0–32kmph at nearly eight seconds, up from seven seconds. The first 100 K2s produced will have MTU engines and successive batches will sport Korean engines.