Armor: South Korean Armor In Turkey

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July 30, 2008: South Korea has sold design and manufacturing technology, for its K1A1 and XK2 tanks, to Turkey, for $400 million. This will enable Turkey to build 250 of its own tanks. These will apparently look a lot like the South Korean K-2 design.

Two years ago, South Korea built a K2 tank prototype and plans to have production models in service in the next two years. The K-2 will replace older American M-48 tanks. Two decades ago, South Korea developed, and built, its own K1 tank. The 51 ton K1 is based on the American M1 design, but is somewhat smaller and equipped with the same 105mm gun used by the U.S. M60 tank. The K1 has a 1,200 horsepower diesel, instead of a 1,500 horsepower gas turbine engine in the M1. Production of the K1 ended in 1997, with about a thousand built.

There have been some upgrades to the fire control and communications systems, as well as the development of the K1A1, which has the same 120mm gun as the M1, along with other equipment used by the M1, but not the K1. The K1A1 is apparently part of the K2 development project, as only two K1A1 prototypes were built, and successfully tested. There were plans to build 300 K1A1s by 2010, but this was dropped in favor of the K2.

The new K2 is to have an improved 120mm gun, capable of firing an anti-tank missile, as well as shells. The K2 will have a number of new electronic defenses. It will have a laser detector that will instantly tell the crew the direction the enemy laser beam is coming from. A tank uses its laser range finder before it fires its main gun. The K2 fire control system will also enable the main gun to be used to hit low flying aircraft. There are also numerous improvements to the K1 mechanical and electronic systems, as well as more armor (both composite and ERA). This will make the K2 easier to use and maintain. An autoloader will reduce the crew to three men. The K2 weighs 55 tons and will outclass anything North Korea, Japan or China have.

South Korea has long supplied Turkey with weapons and weapons technology. The two countries have a good relationship, which began when Turkey sent troops to help defend South Korea during the Korean War (1950-53). Turkish troops stayed to help protect South Korea into the 1960s. The South Korean are aware that they are descended from an East Asian Turkic people, and rather like the idea of being distant cousins to the Turks who long ruled most of the Middle East.

 


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