Since production of the K1 and K1A1 tanks, South Korea has developed a new Main Battle Tank called the K2 Black Panther. The K2 features many improvements over the K1A1 and includes the latest in South Korean Battlefield Management and C4I networking technology.
The K2 Black Panther, which is in production, will replace the obsolete upgraded M48 Patton tanks in ROKA service. The K1E1 upgrade features the same C4I networking technology of the K2 enabling both tanks to work together on the same network.
K1E1 Tank Development
In 2007, the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS), the Army and the developer of the tank, Hyundai Rotem, consulted one another about the requirements for the K1 & K1A1 tank upgrades. Several upgrade items were decided on at that time with a focus on equipping the tank with the C4I network-centric battlefield management systems as used on the K2 Black Panther Tank.
Other improvements will include an identification friend or foe (IFF) system that fires a Ka band beam for a response from the target. If a proper response signal is shown by the target, the fire control system automatically identifies it as friendly. Otherwise, it is declared as hostile.
Hyundai has already invested in developing an air conditioning system for the K1A1, without budget support from the military. “We’re developing an air conditioning system for the K1A1 and hope that the JCS and DAPA will review the plan positively in terms of the welfare of soldiers as well as the tank’s future exports,” a Hyundai official said, requesting to remain anonymous.
The K1 and K1A1 has been criticized in the South Korean Media for its lack of air-conditioning and the detrimental effect this has had on the crews.
K1E1 Tank Upgrades
Hyundai Rotem deliveries of the K1E1 to the ROKA began in 2014. Hyundai Rotem’s website lists only the following upgrades added: Digital battlefield management systems, IFF equipment, surveillance cameras front and rear. It is expected that all K1 Tanks will be upgraded to the K1E1 by 2026.
K1E1 Tank Specifications
|Main Gun||105mm, KM68A1 Rifled
Elevation -10 to +20
|Secondary Weapons||x1 coaxial 7.62mm MG, x1 7.62mm MG, x1 .50 MG|
|Ammunition Storage||x47 105mm, x8,800 7.62mm, x1,000 .50|
|Engine||1200hp MTU 871 8-cylinder Diesel|
|Transmission||Renk automatic-transmission (4 forward/ 2 reverse gears)|
|Top Road Speed||65 km/h (Governed)|
|Road Range||457 km|
|Fuel Capacity||? Litres|
|Water Capability||1.2m (2.2m with snorkel kit)|
|Length Gun Forward||9.67m|
|Height||2.24m (roof top)|
|Weight||51,000kg aka 51 tonne combat|
|Active Protection Systems||No|