Military and Strategic Journal
Issued by the Directorate of Morale Guidance at the General Command of the Armed Forces
United Arab Emirates
Founded in August 1971

2020-09-01

K2 Black Panther Amazing Firepower and Protection with Exceptional Situational Awareness

The Main Battle Tank (MBT) is all set to become the predominant tool of assault in the armoured future of today’s land forces. MBTs are certain to serve as the key assault force in all-weather ground missions, seizing strategic positions and securing the success of the strike. 
 
Yet the MBT will have to reach world advanced level in terms of its general technology. MBTs require excellent mobility and transmission capacity, exquisite communication and navigation system, outstanding loading and self-protection capability, advanced weapon system and a good man-machine environment.
 
Digitally created ergonomic designs are now optimal for the 21st century’s technical combat environment. It is with this technology that the K2 Black Panther MBT, manufactured by South Korea’s Hyundai Rotem, will become the go-to tank for a brand new concept of combat efficiency.  
 
History of K2’s Development
The next-generation K2 Black Panther MBT evolved from the XK2 programme. Its development  began in South Korea in 1995 using exclusively domestic technology. 
The first K2 prototype was revealed in 2007. After extensive trials and evaluation, the first production contract for 100 K2 tanks was signed in 2014. In 2016, a first batch of 100 tanks was reportedly delivered and additional tanks started to be built.  
 
A contract for 106 K2’s with RENK HSWL 295 TM and Doosan DV27K diesel engines was signed in 2019. In 2020, an additional 54 K2’s were delivered with Doosan DV27K engine and S&T Dynamics’ EST15K ingenious German suspension system. 
 
The K2 is currently one of the most advanced and most expensive MBTs in the world. Initially equipped with Rheinmetall’s experimental 140 mm smoothbore gun, the K2 was subsequently reconfigured for the 120 mm/L55. 
 
The K2 is capable of fording deep rivers of 4.1 m - equivalent to 13 ft - thanks to a posture control function that can tilt the chassis or lower its overall height by 40 cm (16 in). It can also deploy a laser warning system that is almost instantaneous in turning the turret towards the source of hostile fire.
 
Anti-tank Rocket/Missiles Protection 
The K2 Black Panther MBT has a conventional layout with a crew of three members including commander, gunner and driver. The driver is at the front centre of the hull, commander and gunner in the turret, while the fighting compartment is in the centre and the engine and transmission at the rear. 
 
Overall, the K2’s combat weight is 55 tonnes, being 10.8m long, 3.6m wide and 2.4m in height. The ground clearance of the vehicle is 0.45 m. 
The Black Panther’s armour is modular composite, integrating an Active Defence System (ADS) and utilising Explosive Reactive Armour (ERA) blocks. Manufacturer Hyundai Rotem clarifies that the front armour withstands direct hits from 120 mm tank rounds, fired from L55 guns. 
 
The K2 Black Panther MBT is completed with an active protection and countermeasures system. Additional protection is provided by a collective nuclear, biological and chemical (NBC) system. 
 
The tank has a Radar Warning Receiver (RWR) mounted on the turret which is used as a Missile Approach Warning System (MAWS) and a radar jammer. Meanwhile, this MBT has an active protection system installed to provide protection against anti-tank rockets and missiles, including both soft and hard kill systems.
 
Exceptional Satellite-linked Situational Awareness
The K2 Black Panther houses the C4I uplink (Command, Control, Communications, Computers and Intelligence) and the GPS (Global Positioning Satellite) uplink. It also includes the IFF/SIF (Identification Friend or Foe/Selective Identification Feature) system compliant with STANAG 4579 to improve situational awareness for the crew. 
 
The Battle Management System is similar to the Inter-Vehicular Information System used in the United States military insofar as it allows the vehicle to share its data with friendly units, including other armoured vehicles and helicopters. Experimental autonomous vehicles and unmanned wheeled reconnaissance vehicle are soon expected to be integrated into the Black Panther’s systems, giving the crew of the tank the ability to scout an area remotely without exposing its position.
 
Wide-ranging Munitions, Immense Firepower 
Thanks to an extended turret gun and new shells, the K2 Black Panther features dramatically strengthened firepower. High mobility and manoeuvrability are also ensured through a small powerpack and its advanced suspension and navigation system.
 
The K2 Black Panther’s main armament is a Hyundai WIA 120 mm 55-calibre smoothbore gun produced in South Korea and fitted with an automatic loader to ensure the loading of projectiles on the move, even when the vehicle moves across uneven surfaces. The 120mm gun can fire about 10 rounds per minute with a total supply of 40 various rounds, meaning that the Black Panther can rain hellfire on an enemy position for nearly three minutes before needing a resupply. 
 
A total of 16 rounds can be stored in the autoloader and another 24 rounds kept inside the hull. The K2 can fire a wide range of munitions using its main gun, including but not limited to its improved tungsten kinetic energy penetrators produced in South Korea, which offer significantly better penetration than the previous generation tungsten rounds. 
 
Multi-purpose HEAT chemical energy rounds can be used against personnel, unarmoured and lightly armoured vehicles on the ground as well as low-flying helicopters. Secondary armament consists of a 12.7×99mm (.50 BMG) K6 heavy machine gun mounted on the top-right of the turret, capable of 3,200 rounds, and a 7.62×51mm NATO coaxial machine gun with a capacity of 12,000 rounds. 
 
KAPS Active Protection System 
The Korean Active Protection System (KAPS) was developed for the K2 Black Panther tank by the South Korean Agency for Defence Development (ADD) augmenting the tank’s protection against anti-tank rockets and missiles. The system uses a dual sensor detection, tracking 3D radar and infrared system and a control computer, while its countermeasure launchers fire tailor-made rockets. 
 
The KAPS enables warheads to be detected up to 150 metres from the tank, then firing a defensive rocket to destroy them at 10 – 15 metres away. While the KAPS serves to neutralise rocket-propelled grenades and anti-tank guided missiles, the system can be installed on other future platforms such as warships, helicopters and buildings.
 
Highly Mobile Water Crossing 
The current production K2 Black Panther is powered by a locally-produced Doosan DV27K - a 4-cycle, 12-cylinder water-cooled diesel 1,500 hp engine and S&T Dynamics EST15K transmission system. The fully automatic transmission of the vehicle includes five forward and three reverse gears, with an auxiliary gas-turbine power unit developing the 400 horsepower necessary to power on-board systems when the main engine is turned off. 
 
The K2 Black Panther has a state-of-the-art semi-active hydro-pneumatic suspension. Every boogie wheel can be individually controlled, allowing this MBT to ‘sit’, ‘stand’, ‘kneel’ or to ‘lean’ in any direction, which not only provides multiple benefits but guarantees a suspension system that is easier to maintain than the traditional one.
 
As well as the Black Panther’s deep wading kit, the vehicle has an in-arm suspension Unit (ISU) that enables the tank to manoeuvre successfully on soft soil and those terrains presenting obstacles. The K2 MBT is also capable of operating as an artillery piece, engaging targets with a capacity to fire 120mm rounds while cruising at 70 kilometres an hour. 
The K2 has a range of 400 - 430 km, traversing a maximum range of 450 km on road and at a depth of 4.1 m in water. The vehicle is also equipped with a dynamic track tension system (DTTS), roll, pitch and bounce control system, able to climb 60-degree slopes and surmount vertical obstacles 1.3 metres in height.
 
Enemy Engagement in Movement
The K2 Black Panther is equipped with an advanced fire-control system (FCS) linked to a millimetre band radar system. These systems are deployed on the frontal arc of the turret, along with a traditional laser range-finder and crosswind sensor featuring a ‘lock-on’ mode, which can acquire and track specific targets up to a range of 9.8 km using thermal optics. 
 
The ‘lock-on’ mode allows the crew to fire accurately while moving effectively to engage low-flying aircraft. Although the gunner sight includes the Gunner’s Primary Sight (KGPS), the commander is equipped with Korean Commander’s Panoramic Sight (KCPS) giving him the ability to override the command to take control of the turret and gun from the gunner.
 
Reference Text/Photo:
 

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