K2 Black Panther Tank

K2 Black Panther Tank

The South Korean K2 Black Panther Tank is a 3rd Generation Main Battle Tank currently in production with Hyundai Rotem for the Republic Of Korea Army (ROKA).

It is the most advanced MBT in ROKA service and its technology has been exported to Turkey for the Altay Main Battle Tank.

The K2 has many improvements over the K1A1 Tank (currently in service) in firepower, protection and mobility.

The K2 Black Panther is replacing the obsolete (by modern standards) upgraded M48 Patton’s in ROKA service. Each K2 costs over US $8.5 million to produce.

The vehicle systems have continually been improved during its some what controversal development, with further planned upgrades including a Hard-Kill Active Protection System.

K2 Black Panther Tank Development

1995 – The design phase started. The new design had to include state-of-the-art domestic technologies. The budget for this phase was approximately US$230 million.

2006 – The final design was completed and ready for a limited production run for field trials.

2007 – 3 vehicles are manufactured by the principal contractor Hyundai Rotem.

2009 – Field trials during the summer start with main production scheduled in 2011 of 390 vehicles using a 1500hp engine developed by Hyundai Rotem and S&T Heavy Industries.

December 2009 – During The National Assembly (Korea’s parliament) slashed 50 billion from the proposed 88.2 billion funding for producing the new tanks.

Defence Minister Kim Tae-young admitted to the problems with the K2 power pack, which is composed of a 1500-horsepower, 12-cylinder diesel engine and transmission (developed and manufactured by Doosan Infracore and S&T Heavy Industries).

“The K2 program will be delayed by one year, but the production of 100 tanks in 2014 will be possible,” Kim said.

November 2010 – During November the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) who have been running the K2 project announced “We’ve been informed that all the minor glitches of the K2 power pack have been taken care of and now there are no problems,” the official said. “We’ll sign a production deal with manufacturers concerned as soon as possible.”

January 2012 – During January DAPA announced it will delay the production of the K2 Black Panther main battle tank for another half a year in order to carry out field tests in early 2014.

April 2012 – During April it was announced by DAPA that “We have decided to delay our plan to use a home grown power-pack due to problems identified over its reliability and durability,” they continued to say “We have concluded that it will be difficult to fix the problems in time for the planned deployment.”

The new engine would be installed on the first 100 manufactured K2’s and deployed to the Army in March 2014. The new engine selected was the German MTU-890. In protest against the DAPA’s decision, a group of people involved in the project asked for an inspection into the decision to use the German engine.

November 2012 – It was announced that the Board of Audit and Inspection (BAI) had carried out a one month audit in to DAPA’s decision to use the MTU-890 engine.

The audit uncovered that DAPA falsely wrote up reports and covered up several faults which were detected in the MTU engine, including the failure to start and stop a vehicle, oil leakage and excessive emission of exhaust, among others, in addition to its failure to meet the required fuel consumption standard and that the engine missed several tests.

It also discovered that the agency exaggerated the flaws detected during its test on the local power pack and ignored experts’ opinion.

BAI went on to say “We’ve asked the agencies concerned, including DAPA, to come up with measures to reconsider the decision to use the German power pack after comprehensively reviewing details of candidate products including their capabilities and prices,” and concluded that “Disciplinary measures for three people responsible for masterminding the unfair process should be taken”.

2013 – The Joint Chiefs of Staff lowered the bar for its acceleration performance, and production commenced

June 2014 – The first 15 K2 Black Panther tanks were put into service

K2 Black Panther Tank Firepower

Main Gun

The K2 Black Panther Tank is equipped with a 120mm smoothbore main gun. This is a calibre Length 55. This means the K2 can fire the standard ammunition used by the K1A1, but with the increased Length, generate a higher level of muzzle velocity. This increases the rounds range, accuracy and penetration of KE rounds.

The main gun theoretically can also fire other more effective 120mm ammunition developed for other L55 main guns. South Korea has reportedly developed a new series of 120mm ammunition for the main gun, which includes The Korean Smart Top-Attack Munition (KSTAM).

KSTAM is a fire and forget, top attack weapon. It is fired at ranges of up to 8km, where it drops shaped charged penetrators with radar technology capable of detecting targets. Once detected, the charge detonates penetrating the top of the target, which is normally the least protected area.

The K2 main gun is fully stabilized. The Fire Control System features a ballistic computer, atmospheric sensors and thermal channels for the both the Gunners and Commanders Independent Sight. the FCS also has an Auto Target Detection and Tracking capability.


K2 Black Panther Autoloader

K2 Black Panther Autoloader

Another significant feature of the K2 Black Panther, is the decision to employee an auto-loader and reduce the crew to 3 men.

The autoloader is mounted in the turrets bustle and stores 16 rounds of the 40 carried (just like the French Leclerc Tank). The remaining rounds are stored in the hull, most likely on the front right hand side of the hull under the added Explosive Reactive Armor.

K2 Black Panther Tank Protection


The K2 employees a modular armor system across the hull and turret fronts containing an unspecified Composite or Passive armor, with armored side skirts to protect against RPG attack.

In addition the K2 has received a distinct Explosive Reactive Armor package in the later part of its development, made up of small square bricks. It is employed in panels along the sides of the hull and turret, upper glacis of the hull and the roof of the turret above the breech as well as the crew hatches.

Active Protection Systems

The K2 currently is equipped with a “Soft Kill” Active Protection System. This comprises:

K2 Black Panther Tank Soft-Kill APS

K2 Black Panther Tank Soft-Kill APS

  • BLUE – Laser Warning Receivers
  • RED – Radar Warning Receivers
  • GREEN – VIRSS Grenade Launchers (Screens against Infa-Red, optical detection and radar)
  • WHITE – Jammer

South Korea has successfully developed, trialled and installed its KAPS (Korean Active Protection System) on a K2 Black Panther. The system is not yet in service and is planned to be added in the K2 PIP upgrade.

The system comprises of x2 launchers, 1 mounted each side of the turret.


The K2 features full NBC protection and an internal fire detection and suppression system. The Electrical Turret drive and Main Gun stabilization offer increased protection for the crew compared to that of hydraulic systems.

K2 Black Panther Tank Mobility

K2 Black Panther Tank Vertical Climb

K2 Black Panther Tank Vertical Climb

The K2 suspension is Hydropneumatic and has the same suspension capability of the K1 Tank series so the vehicle can either kneel forward or backwards in order to fire up or down hills.

The K2 employees a 1500hp engine, providing improvements in power-to-weight ratio, hill climbing and acceleration compared to the K1 and K1A1.

The powerpack (engine and transmission) have caused delays in the development and production of the K2. The original requirement for using domestic technologies has mean’t the development of a South Korean powerpack. The K1 and K1A1 use licence built German MTU diesels.

The first production batch (100 vehicles) of the K2 were fitted with MTU engines and an Renk automatic-transmission. It was announced in 2015, that the second production batch of vehicles will use a domestic Doosan DST 1500 hp engine and an S&T Dynamics automatic transmission.

K2 Black Panther Tank Layout

The K2 has a x3 man crew. The Driver sits on the left side of the hull. The Gunners station is located on the left side of the turret and the Commander is on the right with the main guns breach between them. This is fed by the autoloader from the magazine in the turrets bustle (rear of the turret). The power pack is located in the hull rear. Its not clear if the K2 has an air-conditioning system for the crew.

K2 Black Panther Tank Specifications

Main Gun 120mm Smoothbore (L55)
Elevation -10 to +20?
Secondary Weapons x1 coaxial 7.62mm MG, x1 7.62mm MG, x1 .50 MG
Ammunition Storage x40 120mm, x8,800 7.62mm, x1,000 .50
Engine 1500hp Diesel (MTU & Domestic)
Transmission Automatic-transmission (5 forward/ 3 reverse gears)
Top Road Speed 70 km/h
Road Range 450+ km
Fuel Capacity ? Litres
Vertical Obstacle 1m?
Water Capability 4.1m with snorkel kit
Trench Crossing 2.74m
Gradient 60%?
Side Slope 30%?
Length Gun Forward 10.6m
Length Hull 7.5m
3.6m (without ERA)
Height 2.4m (roof top)
Ground Clearance 0.45m
Weight 55,000kg aka 55 tonne combat
NBC Protected Yes
Armor Type Steel/Composite/Modular/ERA
Active Protection Systems Yes
Commander Yes
Gunner Yes
Loader Yes
Driver Yes
Additional Crew
Troops Carried n/a


• Manufacturer
•    Video of the Hard Kill System
•    Pictures
•    Autoloader
•    Exercising and firing
•    Info
•    Info