South Korea is planning to field 100 additional K2 Black Panther tanks to strengthen its frontline defense against North.
"The Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) submitted the request citing the need for 100 or so more K2 tanks in October and the Ministry of National Defense is carrying out a verification of the demand," Yonhap quoted an unnamed military official as saying Thursday.
K2 is the South Korean Army's main battle tank (MBT) and has been produced since 2013. The tank developed in the country has been reaching frontline units starting in 2014, with a total of 206 K2 tanks having been deployed or are in the process of being delivered.
The additional production plan, if accepted, would push up the number of the South Korean military's fleet to more than 300 tanks. The K2s augment the K1 battle tanks that are in widespread service among the country's military.
The move is in response to North Korea increasing its tank numbers starting in 2005. Currently the communist state is believed to have some 4,500 tanks in its inventory, roughly twice the number of South Korea's MBT force, the news agency said.
"The JCS' additional demand of some 100 tanks is also in consideration of the need to replace the military's aging tank assets," another military official said.
The K2 has a 120-millimeter smoothbore gun with 40 rounds as its main armament, has a maximum speed of 70 kilometers per hour as well as the ability to cross a river as deep as 4 meters. One unit costs some 8 billion won (US$6.9 million), making them one of the more expensive tanks in the world to build.