The Polish military decided to buy nearly 1,000 K2 Black Panther tanks of the latest generation from Korea, to quickly switch to NATO-standard weapons, instead of using old Soviet-standard tanks.

South Korea and Poland are reportedly close to finalizing a $14.5 billion arms deal, which includes 48 F-50 light fighter jets and about 850 tanks and artillery. The K2 is a NATO compatible tank with an automatic loader. The crew will be reduced from 4 people to 3 people. The tank is considered to have the best tactical features in the world today, equivalent to the Russian T-14 tank.

The Russian T-14 Armata tank has a number of performance advantages, including an unmanned turret, better armor-piercing ammunition, and superior armor protection; However, the Russian Army has not been able to equip them in large numbers, but only a few experimental ones. The fact that Russia has not been able to replace all tanks of the Soviet era, makes them less advantageous in confronting the K2 tank in the event of a war between Russia and NATO, or limited Polish intervention in Ukraine.

Russian sources have repeatedly cited the lack of threats from modern Western tanks as the reason why the T-14 did not receive many domestic orders, as NATO member countries did not limit introduced any new tanks since 1998 and most use tanks from around 1980. However, the deployment of the K2 in Europe, and the development of new tanks by Germany and France, is likely to spur Russia to invest more in the T-14 and more ambitious programs.

Against the backdrop of tensions with Russia, Poland is said to be planning to buy about 1,000 K2 tanks, up from a previous estimate of around 800, planned before the outbreak of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict. Poland’s Deputy Prime Minister and Defense Minister, Mariusz Blaszczak, announced on July 22 that the procurement “will significantly increase the security of Poland and the strength of the Polish Army. It is a win-win situation for both parties; We will sign the contract next week.”

With the purchase of powerful Polish weapons from South Korea, Mr. Mariusz stated: “Among European countries and NATO, Poland will have the strongest ground force”. The K2 tank has a range almost twice that of modern Western tanks, although it is still only two thirds of the advertised range of the main gun on the T-14. After the initial purchase of 180 K2, 820 K2PL tanks are expected to be delivered from 2026 and partly produced in Poland itself.

Improvements will include reinforced armor, a new omnidirectional sighting system, and an active defense system. A version, the K3PL, has also been reported, but not confirmed, and could bring the number of tanks of Korean origin in the Polish Army to more than 1,000. The K2 tanks are expected by Poland to offer a superior performance advantage over the T-72B3 and B3M, which are currently the backbone of the main battle tank force of the Russian Army; Even Russia’s top main battle tank, the T-90M, which has much better performance, is unlikely to be able to withstand the K2.

The number of Polish K2 tanks also makes the T-90M tanks, about 600 units, which Russia plans to deploy in the near future, inferior. The numerical superiority of any tank the Russian Army has in service, makes the arms deal with South Korea potentially one of the most threatening arms deals to Russia’s security since the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991.

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