SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA – Let’s face it: The war in Ukraine sparked the development of tracked and ground combat vehicles.
Successes and failures on the battlefield are tracked. They serve to discover new concepts aimed at improving the combat capability and effectiveness of current combat vehicles. Or for the creation of completely new ones. Such is the case with South Korea’s new stealth tank.
On a regional scale, South Korea will have to counteract North Korea. Seoul has already begun phasing out outdated ground systems. Russian-made M-series and T-series tanks, in service for 40 years, are being replaced by K2 tanks. Considered the most modern and combat-ready tank in the world, the K2 may soon be forgotten.
Hyundai Rotem stealth tank
Hyundai Rotem is developing a new tank. The company presented a next-generation tank concept, which should come into practical use in 2030. The new generation tank, which has a stealthy design that the enemy does not detect, is equipped with a 130mm smoothbore gun and has higher attack power.
The range of action has been extended through the use of multirole drones and missiles, and the number of crew members has been reduced through the use of an unmanned turret.
It is made to allow autonomous driving and remote control using the technology of the 4th industrial revolution. A crewed tank can scout and attack enemy forces while remotely piloting the unmanned tank. It is also equipped with equipment to neutralize improvised explosive devices that the enemy installs on the roads.
Mobility is increased by a hydrogen-based electrification device and active suspension device, and reactive armor is added to the sides of the tank for better protection.
Light tank concept?
Information about the new Stet Tank is still scarce. As the end of the decade approaches, a new one is yet to come. But according to experts, Hyundai Rotem’s new stealth tank is more like a light tank concept.
Some even directly connected the K2 tanks ordered by Poland and the Polish PL-01 light tank concept. The similarities in design are many, and South Korea may have cooperated with Poland in this development.
The agreement between South Korea and Poland for the acquisition of the K2 tanks may include the PL-01 project, which South Korea will take over. However, this is only an assumption – there is no information that this is a fact.
South Korea is not involved in the PL-01 concept. It is an idea of the Polish OBRUM developed together with BAE Systems. The PL-01 is based on the Swedish CV90120-T light tank. It was first introduced ten years ago.
The K2 will be modernized.
A plan was also proposed to improve the characteristics of the K2 tank used by mechanized units of the Ground Forces. Just as countries worldwide continue to improve tank performance by applying the latest technology while reflecting on the lessons of the Ukrainian war, South Korea should systematically improve the performance of the K2 tank from the development phase planning.
Specifically, the active defense system will be strengthened given the precedent that a significant number of Russian tanks during the Ukraine war were attacked and destroyed by anti-tank missiles while advancing without any active defense system.
A Remote Control Fire System [RCWS] has been installed, which prevents the crew from leaving the tank and firing. The special frontal armor has been improved, a 360-degree situational awareness system has been provided, and the sight and turret drive systems have been improved.
When a multilayer defense system is added to block attacks from drones and anti-tank missiles, the security of the K2 tank is further increased.
K2 multilayer defense system
The multilayer defense system, for which an operational conceptual study was carried out last year, subdivides the threat response measures against armored vehicles by distance.
Cost-effectiveness is increased by connecting to new equipment while using sensors and weaponry mounted on tanks and armored vehicles.
If a drone or missile is detected by radar at a distance of up to 8 km, it is identified by optical equipment at a distance of 5 km. When they come closer than 2 km, they are neutralized with machine guns, active protection means, and means of disruption.