Note: K2 black panther3 // //
The K2's primary anti-tank munition is an indigenously developed improved tungsten APFSDS kinetic energy penetrator, which offers significantly greater penetration than the current generation of tungsten rounds through better heat treatment of the tungsten alloy and the deformation-free self-sharpening that the penetrator undergoes as it penetrates the armour of its target. 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 to seek and acquire stationary or moving targets. When a target is acquired, an explosively formed penetrator is fired from a top-down position, to exploit the weaker top armor of tanks. Target acquisition can also be directed manually by the tank crew via a remote link. These characteristics allow the launch vehicle to remain concealed behind cover while firing successive rounds towards the known location of an enemy, or provide effective indirect fire support against targets hidden behind obstacles and structures.
Details of the composite armor of the Black Panther are classified. The frontal armor has been proven to be effective at defeating the 120 mm APFSDS round fired from the L55 gun. Explosive Reactive Armor blocks are also present, with the addition of Non-Explosive Reactive Armor planned for the K2 PIP version.
Defense against incoming missiles is provided by a soft-kill anti-missile system. The K2 PIP will likely deploy a hard-kill anti-missile defense system when it is released within the next few years.
The millimeter band radar system mounted on the turret is capable of operating as a Missile Approach Warning System (MAWS). The vehicle's computer in turn can triangulate incoming projectiles, immediately warn the vehicle crew and fire off Visual and Infrared Screening Smoke (VIRSS) grenades, which can effectively block optical, infrared and radar signatures. Once the hard-kill AMS is installed, the radar system will also be responsible for tracking and targeting the incoming missiles for the AMS.
The K2 also has a Radar Warning Receiver (RWR) and radar jammer. Four all-bearing Laser warning receivers (LWR) are also present to alert the crew should the vehicle become "painted", and the computer can also deploy VIRSS grenades towards the direction of the beam.
An automatic fire suppression system is programmed to detect and put out any internal fires that may occur, and atmospheric sensors alert the crew if the tank enters a hazardous environment.
Mobility and maneuverability
The K2 can travel at speeds of up to 70 km/h on road surfaces, accelerate from 0 to 32 km/h within 8.7 seconds, and maintain speeds of up to 52 km/h in off-road conditions. It can also climb 60-degree slopes and vertical obstacles 1.8 meters in height. Due to the relatively compact design of the engine, the designers were able to fit an additional Samsung Techwin gas-turbine engine into the remaining compartment space. This is capable of producing 100 horsepower (75 kW), and intended to act as an auxiliary power unit with which the tank may power its on-board systems when its main engines are turned off. It will also allow the tank to conserve fuel when idling and minimise the vehicle's thermal and acoustic signatures.
The vehicle can cross rivers as deep as 4.1 meters using a snorkel system, which also serves as a conning tower for the tank commander. The system takes approximately 20~30 minutes to prepare. The turret becomes watertight while fording, but the chassis can take in 500 gallons of water to prevent excessive buoyancy from air inside the vehicle and keep the tracks planted firmly on the ground. Furthermore, the tank can enter combat-ready status as soon as it resurfaces. It is said that K2's predecessor, K1 can cross a river of 2 meter depth after 2 hours of preparation, which also requires assistance from military engineers. However, a K2 tank does not require outside assistance for river crossing.
The Black Panther fields an advanced suspension system, called the In-arm Suspension Unit (ISU), which allows for individual control of every bogie on the tracks. This allows the K2 to "sit", "stand" and "kneel", as well as "lean" towards one side or a corner. "Sitting" gives the tank a lower profile and offers superior handling over roads. "Standing" gives the vehicle higher ground clearance for maneuverability over rough terrain. "Kneeling" augments the angular range in which the tank's gun barrel can elevate and depress, allowing the vehicle to fire its main gun downhill as well as engage low-flying aircraft more effectively. The suspension unit also cushions the chassis from vibrations when travelling over uneven terrain, as the bogies can be adjusted individually on-the-fly.
Using the suspension system, K2 is able to elevate its main gun up to 24 degree which allows a curved trajectory attack at a hovering helicopter target 5 km (3.1 mi) away.
The K2 houses the following features which help to improve situational awareness for the crew:
- C4I (Command, Control, Communications, Computers, and Intelligence) uplink.
- GPS (Global Positioning Satellite) uplink.
- IFF/SIF (Identification Friend or Foe/Selective Identification Feature) system compliant with STANAG 4579. Located on the main gun mantlet, just above the gun, the system fires a 38 GHz beam in the direction of the gun for a response from the targeted vehicle. If a proper response signal is shown by the target, the fire control system automatically identifies it as a friendly. If the target fails to respond to the identification signal, it is then declared as a hostile.
- Battle Management System (Similar to the Inter-Vehicular Information System used in the United States military) allows the vehicle to share its data with friendly units, including other armored vehicles and helicopters.
Work is also under way to integrate the XAV unmanned wheeled reconnaissance vehicle into the Black Panther's systems, giving the tank's crew the ability to remotely scout an area without exposing its position.
K2 product improvement program
The K2 PIP is an improved version of the initial production model of the K2 that will be released within the next few years. Improvements will include:
- Upgrading the Semi-Active In-arm Suspension Unit to an Active In-arm Suspension Unit
- Integration of a high-resolution terrain-scanning system to the vehicle's suspension system. This is purported to allow the vehicle to "plan ahead" by scanning nearby terrain up to 50 meters away in all directions and calculate the optimal position of the bogies in order to improve vehicle handling over uneven terrain.
- Integration of a hard-kill anti-missile system.
- Addition of Non-Explosive Reactive Armor (NxRA).
- Potentially replacing the 120 mm / L55 gun with an electrothermal-chemical gun, which will significantly increase the vehicle's firepower and potential payload.
The Korean Active Protection System (KAPS) is an indigenously developed hard-kill active protection system designed to protect the K2 from anti-tank threats. It uses a three-dimensional detection and tracking radar and a thermal imager to detect incoming threats. Warheads can be detected out to 150 meters from the tank, and a defensive rocket is fired to destroy them at 10–15 meters away. The KAPS can neutralize rocket-propelled grenades and anti-tank guided missiles. The system may be installed on other platforms in the future like warships, helicopters, and buildings. Unit price per system is ₩670 million ($600,000).
After competing against the Leclerc and Leopard 2, the K2 established its first export customer in Turkey. In June 2007, South Korea and Turkey successfully negotiated an arms deal contract worth ₩500 billion (approximately US$540 million) licensing the cannon design of the K2, as well as exporting 40 (+15) KT-1 trainer planes to Turkey.
On July 30, 2008, South Korea's Hyundai Rotem and Turkey's Otokar signed a contract worth $540 million for technological transfer and design assistance. The technology is to be incorporated to Turkey's own indigenous future main battle tank, dubbed MİTÜP Altay. Despite sharing many subsystems with the K2, such as main gun, it is expected to feature a different look and have different performance characteristics. Turkey required partial dissolution of contractual coverage from the South Korean national-defense agency in January, 2011 for reasons of the delay in development.
In late September 2013, South Korea entered the K2 Black Panther in the Peruvian Army's future tank competition.
Variants and upgrades
- XK2: Experimental model.
- K2: First production variant. 206 units planned to be built starting in 2013.
- K2 PIP (Product Improvement Program): Upgraded K2.
- Republic of Korea Armed Forces – 100 in service and 106 in production