The South Korean K2 Black Panther tank development started in 1995 and cost $260 million. South Korea designed a tank that on paper appears to be at equal or better than the specifications of current NATO tanks.
From Germany, South Korea developed its own version of the Rheinmetall 120-millimeter L55 gun, which is a full 1.3 meters longer than the 120-millimeter L44 caliber gun used on all Abrams tanks and older Leopard 2s. With a longer gun comes greater internal pressure, so the L55 gun has superior muzzle velocity.
It can fire up to 10 rounds a minute. The ammunition for the main gun is loaded in a 16-shell magazine. The tank has a total ammunition capacity of 40 rounds for its main armamment.
The K2 can also ford rivers up to 4.2 meters deep via a snorkel kit that doubles as a “conning” tower, something the Korean army learned from the 35 T-80Us it acquired from Russia back in the late ’90s.
Although the heart of a tank is its gun, the next most important component is its engine and transmission, collectively known as the “powerpack.” For this, South Korea again looked to Germany and its excellent MTU-890 V12 diesel 1,500 horsepower engine.
The most noticeable is the tank’s hydropneumatic suspension. Originally developed on the K1, an improved version allows the K2 to lower or raise its profile. Like a “low riding” street car it can kneel, sit or “lean” in any direction.
This allows the tank to conceal itself using the ultimate “hull down” positions, the holy grail of defensive tank tactics, where the tank’s turret and cannon peeks out from behind elevated terrain — which hides most of the tank from any enemies advancing against it.
Next is the use of a millimeter band radar in conjunction with the K2’s fire control system. Although South Korea didn’t invent millimeter band radar, its integration and application of it is unique.
Since mountainous terrain is uneven terrain, there is a danger of sudden bumps knocking out the aim of even a stabilized gun while the tank is on the move.
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
K2 PIP upgrade
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.
SOURCE- War is Boring
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
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