South Korean arms find interest in Europe amid Ukraine war

Hyundai, Hanwha, KAI win orders in Poland, but other countries also tempted

JENS KASTNER, Contributing writer, and KIM JAEWON, Nikkei staff writer SEPTEMBER 9, 2022 06:00 JST

HAMBURG, Germany/ SEOUL — The European arms market was shaken by a new entrant in July. While Krauss-Maffei Wegmann of Germany has been pitching tank upgrades to the country’s European allies, Poland announced it had formed a deal with South Korea’s Hyundai Rotem.

The move was surprising, as it marked only the second major arms procurement by a NATO member from a supplier outside the bloc. In 2017, Turkey had bought an air defense system from Russia in a highly controversial move.

Poland announced it was buying 1,000 K2 Black Panther tanks from Hyundai Rotem, a defense subsidiary of Hyundai Motor Group. Hyundai Rotem will over the short term supply 180 of the armored vehicles, known for their powerful 120 mm smoothbore cannons, autoloading systems and speeds of up to 70 kph. The rest will be built in the east European country from 2026.

The deal illustrates how South Korean defense companies are expanding in Europe where military spending is rising after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. But it is not just on the continent where they are making waves.

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