South Korean Defense Industry is the leading supplier of weaponry for the Republic of Korea Armed Forces. South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol said he wants to become one of the top four suppliers of armament in the world.

The South Korean arms trade was also strengthened by Poland’s recent purchase of 1,000 tanks, more than 600 pieces of artillery, and a couple of dozen fighter jets. This will reportedly replace weapons Poland has sent to Ukraine, according to the Polish Ministry of Defense.

This deal includes 980 tanks of the South Korean K2 mode, 48 FA-50 fighter jets, and 648 self-propelled K9 armored howitzers.

“By entering the world’s top four defense exporters after the United States, Russia, and France, the (South Korean) defense industry will become a strategic industrialization and a defense powerhouse,” Yoon said at the presidential office.

K2 black panther
K2 Black Panther tank on display at ADEX 2013. (Source: Simta/Wikimedia)

South Korean K2 “Black Panther” is a next-generation battle tank manufactured by Hyundai Rotem. They were made to replace the M48 Patton tanks that were used by the South Korean Military. It costs about $8.5 million per unit, and it’s definitely worth the price.

The K2 is 35ft. 5 in long and has a 7.5-meter chassis. It can seat up to 3 crew members (ideally one commander, one gunner, and one driver). It houses 120 mm 55 caliber guns, 12.7x99mm K6 heavy machine guns, and 7.62x51mm NATO coaxial machine gun.

The ministry said they’re optimistic that K2 would replace the Soviet-era tanks Ukraine is using to fight Russian forces. Polish Defense Minister Mariusz Błaszczak also noted that this donation would “significantly increase Poland’sPoland’s security and the strength of the Polish Army.”

Retired South Korean General Chun In-Bum confirmed that this is South Korea’s largest weapons deal so far. In 2021, the country ranked 10th in the world weapons exports, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). With S. Korea’s current trajectory, SIPRY’s trend-indicator value monitoring system expects to place them in at least the top five slot by the end of the year (just behind Italy, which sold $1.7 billion worth of arms export last year).