South Korea: good news about the K1, K1A1 and K1A2 MBTs

The Republic of Korea continues fielding Type 88A1 (K1A1) main battle tanks via two methods. New-production K1A1 tanks continue rolling off the Rotem Company production line for ROK Army procurement. The prime contractor also maintains a modernization and retrofit program, upgrading existing ROK Army K1 tanks to the K1A1 variant.

South Korea good news about the K1 K1A1 and K1A2 MBTs
South Korean Army K1A2 main battle tank at ADEX 2017, the Seoul International Aerospace & Defense Exhibition

(Picture source: Army Recognition)

The ROK Army intends to procure up to 700 new-production K1A1 tanks, in addition to retrofitting some 1,000 K1 tanks to the A1 configuration. This will provide the ROK Army with a modern, fully standardized armor force.

The K1 and K1A1 have virtually no immediate prospects for export sales but the developmental K2 variant has already drawn interest on the international market: Turkey has bought a license to produce the K2 Black Panther main battle tank, with Otokar Otobus Karoseri Sanayi AS (Istanbul) as licensee.

The K1 production of the original K1 was completed in 2002. The K1A1 production keeps running for ROK Army procurement until the K2 is ready for deployment.

As a reminder, the K1 is a South Korean Main battle tank in use with their national armed forces. It was developed by Hyundai Precision (later Hyundai Rotem). The vehicle's early design work was based on the General Dynamics M1 Abrams, with some noticeable differences including a combined system of hydropneumatics suspension and torsion bars, and a river-crossing fording kit, to meet the required operational capability that is specific to combat operations in the mountainous and swampy terrain of the Korean peninsula. The K1A1 entered service in 1999, upgraded with a 120mm smoothbore gun, and outfitted with more modern electronics, ballistic computers, and fire control systems developed by Samsung Electronics. Hyundai Rotem produced 1,511 K1 and K1A1 tanks between 1985 and 2010.