The K2 Black Panther tank, which weighs 55 to 61 tons, strengthens the South Korean tank force that currently relies on the K1 and K1A1 tanks and the Russian-made T-80 in dealing with the advance of the North Korean army’s tank armor.
Due to the presence of its neighbors to the north, South Korea must constantly be prepared for the possibility of warfare. Kim Jung-un, the leader of North Korea, regularly feels the need to show that provocative actions could occur at any time, and South Korea has responded by creating a fierce military that uses updated vehicles and weapons. Among those is the K2 Black Panther main battle tank (MBT).
The K2 costs a whopping $8.5 million per unit. Each unit thus represents a significant investment in South Korean defense capabilities. South Korea’s K2 Black Panther main invulnerable tank has been recognized by Guinness World Records as the world’s most expensive main battle tank.
However, the K2 Black Panther main tank developed by Hyundai ROTEM and the Agency for Defense Development is not only expensive but it is also one of the most capable main tanks on the market today.
The Black Panther tank, which weighs 55 tons to 61 tons, strengthens the South Korean tank force that currently relies on the K1 and K1A1 tanks and the Russian-made T-80 in dealing with the North Korean army’s tank force.
By the early 2000s, the K2 had entered its testing phase. In 2014, the K2 entered frontline service as clearly one of the world’s best operational tanks.
The K2 is equipped with a CN08 120mm 55-caliber smoothbore cannon, which has a powerful punch. The ability to fire up to 10 rounds per minute is made possible via an autoloader. Hyundai’s CN08 cannon won the competition to equip the K2 against Rheinmetall’s experimental 140mm smoothbore gun. The K2 is equipped with two machine guns in addition to its main weapon: a 7.62mm coaxial machine gun and a 12.7mm K6 heavy machine gun.
The 120mm main gun depends on an advanced fire-control system. The K2 uses lock-on targeting, thanks to an Extremely High-Frequency radar system, a Raman laser rangefinder, and a crosswind sensor. This means the K2 can acquire and track targets from up to 6 miles out. Accordingly, the K2 main gun is highly effective. It can fire while the tank is moving. It can even engage with low-flying aircraft. The modern fire control system makes tiny adjustments for travel over uneven terrain, calculating each bump in the road to recalibrate the gun moment to moment, resulting in a highly accurate weapon.
The K2 can travel with a top speed of 70 kilometers per hour, the K2 can accelerate from 0 to 32 kph in just 8.7 seconds. The tank was built to handle off-road-style conditions, maintaining speeds of up to 52 kph. The tank is entirely adept at handling the rugged battlefield environment. It can climb 60-degree slopes and scale 1.8-meter-high vertical objects. The K2 can also ford rivers up to a depth of 4.1 meters with no more than 20 minutes of preparation.
The tank uses a snorkel system, and it can take on 500 gallons of water in the chassis, which helps the K2 sink down and maintain traction with the river bottom. Meanwhile, the turret remains watertight.
The South Korean military expects up to 300 K2 Black Panthers to serve with the South Korean military.
South Korea produces its own 120mm Rheimetall cannon under license from the German firm, while the engine has a capacity of 1,500 horsepower developed by the well-known German engine maker, MTU.
Its cannon can also launch an anti-tank missile, the KSTAM-II, which can hit targets up to 5 miles away.
Since the Black Panther is relatively light compared to the Abrams tank (which uses a 1,500 horsepower engine), this South Korean tank is still powerful in terms of power-to-weight-ratio.
As for the armor, it uses modular composite armor with its composition kept secret as well as Explosive Reactive Armor (ERA) blocks, with defense observers saying its level of protection is on par with the US military’s MIA2 Abrams tank.
The K2 Black Panther tank uses an autoloader system with a maximum rate of fire of 15 shots per minute and a maximum distance of 10km from its cannon assisted by a sophisticated fire control system.
In addition to the sophisticated suspension system, the K2 Black Panther tank can also wade through rivers or lakes as deep as 4.2 meters.