K2 Black Panther firing its cannon
K2 Black Panther firing its cannon

K2 Black Panther Weapon Systems

The K2 Black Panther is a next generation South Korean main battle tank designed by the South Korean Agency for Defense Development and manufactured by Hyundai Rotem. Developed as a modern main battle tank that will replace most of the remaining M48 Patton tanks and complement the K1 series of main battle tanks currently fielded by the South Korean military. The Black Panther is armed with a 120mm L/55 smoothbore gun indigenously developed by Hyundai Wia. This is complemented by an autoloader, similar to that designed for the Leclerc tank; it can fire up to 10 rounds a minute. The ammunition for the main gun is loaded in a 16-shell magazine. The tank has a total ammunition capacity of 40 rounds for its main armament. Secondary weapons include a 12.7 mm K6 Machine Gun heavy machine gun and a 7.62 mm coaxial machine gun.

K2 Black Panther main battle tanks of the Republic of Korea Army participating in various training exercises.
Republic of Korea Army K2 Black Panther Main battle tanks

The K2 is equipped with an advanced fire-control system linked to an Extremely High Frequency radar system deployed on the frontal arc of the turret, along with a traditional laser rangefinder and crosswind sensor. The system is capable of a “lock-on” mode, which can acquire and track specific targets up to a range of 9.8 km (6.1 mi) using a thermographic camera. This allows the crew to fire accurately while moving as well as engage low-flying aircraft. The fire-control system is also linked to an advanced gun stabilizer and trigger-delay mechanism to optimise accuracy while moving in uneven terrain. If the trigger on the main gun is pulled at the same time the tank encounters an irregularity in the terrain, oscillation of the gun barrel will cause temporary misalignment between a laser emitter at the top of the barrel and a sensor at the base.

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Republic of Korea Army AH-1S Cobra attack helicopters provide air cover for K2 Black Panther main battle tanks.
Republic of Korea Army K2 Black Panther Main battle tanks

The Korean Gunner’s Primary Sight (KGPS) and the Korean Commander’s Panoramic Sight (KCPS) are present in the Black Panther as in the original series of K1A1 tanks, though modified to utilise the more advanced sensors and armaments deployed on the K2. The commander of the tank has the ability to override the command to take control of the turret and gun from the gunner. Moreover, unconfirmed reports state that, in the event of an emergency, the vehicle can be operated by only two crew members, or even a single one. It is speculated that the fire-control system can automatically spot and track visible targets, compare them using the data link established with other friendly vehicles to prevent redundant target engagements, and fire its main gun without manual input.

 Republic of Korea Army K2 Black Panther Main battle tanks
Republic of Korea Army K2 Black Panther Main battle tanks

The K2’s primary anti-tank munition is an indigenously developed improved tungsten APFSDS kinetic energy penetrator. For attacking unhardened targets, the K2 can use a multi-purpose HEAT chemical energy round, similar to the U.S. M830A1 HEAT MP-T, providing good offensive capabilities against personnel, unarmored and lightly armored vehicles on the ground as well as low-flying helicopters. The Korean Smart Top-Attack Munition (KSTAM) is a fire-and-forget, top-attack anti-tank munition with an effective operating range of 2–8 km (1.2–5.0 mi), developed specifically for use with the K2. It is launched as a kinetic energy projectile, fired from the main gun in a high trajectory profile comparable to that of a mortar. Upon reaching its designated target area, a parachute deploys, giving on-board millimeter band radar, infrared and radiometer sensors time.

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