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MilMag interview with President and CEO of Hyundai Rotem Europe, Jun Mo SEO

Jakub Link-Lenczowski, MILMAG: K2 MBT development became a crucial project both for the Republic of Korea and Poland. Which milestones have been already achieved and which challenges are the most important to develop K2PL?

President and CEO of Hyundai Rotem Europe, Jun Mo SEO: After signing a framework contract with the Armament Agency in July 2022, Hyundai Rotem delivered 46 K2GF tanks by April 2024. Hyundai Rotem plans to deliver a total of 180 tanks by the end of 2025 sequentially. Hyundai Rotem is ready to start the negotiations on the K2PL executive contract, and we will do our utmost to ensure that the K2PL MBTs are delivered as soon as possible by finalizing the second executive contract and commencing the project within this year. Hyundai Rotem believes that the K2PL project will contribute to Poland’s security and provide a significant opportunity for the Polish defense industry by collaborating in local production and MRO areas. This collaboration will enable Poland to take the lead in the MBT business in Europe in the near future (Two more deliveries of K2 tanks this year).

One of the Polish K2GF tanks (from the right) presented during the 32nd International Defence Industry Exhibition MSPO in 2023

Joint production of the K2 is one of the major topics. Could you provide us an update on the latest developments in this matter?

The K2PL project will involve technology transfer and the application of Polish solutions for the production of 500 K2PL MBTs locally by Polish defense companies, promoting localization. A Polish system integration company will establish optimized tank production capabilities through the latest production lines and specialized personnel. Hyundai Rotem will make every effort to develop production and maintenance capabilities in the shortest possible time and is confident that Poland will emerge as the production and maintenance hub for the K2PL tanks in Europe (PGZ on the production of K2PL tanks in Poland).

Korean K2 tank during a moving target acquisition simulation

Another question is about cooperation with the Polish industry. Which Polish systems might or will be implemented (like BMS, UAVs, radios, ammunition, optoelectronics, machine guns etc.) to the K2?

Hyundai Rotem is currently in technical discussions to implement the Polish Solution on the K2PL tank. Prioritizing the requirements of the Armament Agency and the end-users, Hyundai Rotem will review with an open mind in collaboration with the consortium and defense companies. The K2PL project garners significant interest and support from the Polish government, military, and the Korean government. We aim to provide the optimal solution by incorporating various requirements such as technology transfer, local production, application of Polish products, and the implementation of the latest technologies reflecting the trends and developments of recent conflicts.

K600 CEV Rhino combat engineering vehicle based on the K1A1 tank chassis during a presentation of overcoming a minefield

Is there any chance that technologies to be developed jointly by the Republic of Korea and Poland might be implemented in the K3?

Hyundai Rotem, in collaboration with the Korean government, is pursuing the development of a Next-Generation Main Battle Tank (NGMBT) with a target completion in the late 2030s. To develop the NGMBT, numerous core technologies need to be developed, and these technologies must reach a Technology Readiness Level (TRL) of 6 or higher to advance to the system development stage. Hyundai Rotem, in collaboration with the Korean government, initiated the development of crucial technologies for the next-generation tank in 2022. These technologies include hydrogen fuel cells, large-caliber main guns, and unmanned turrets. We plan to develop additional core technologies in various fields. Through the K2PL project, we aim to gradually expand our collaboration with Polish defense companies, focusing on tank production and maintenance capabilities, as well as the core technologies for major components. We hope to collaborate on the next-generation tank as well.

The new generation K3 main battle tank (NGMBT) is to be armed with an increased caliber gun (130 mm), placed in an unmanned turret, and compatible with a number of unmanned platforms, both ground and flying. The crew will control the vehicle’s systems from a capsule protected by armor reinforced with a new generation active defense system. The K3 will also be equipped with a new generation drive. The tank is also to be connected to future network-centric battlefield systems / Photo: HRC

Is there any space to transfer technology such as hydropneumatic suspension or further hybrid propulsion to the Polish industry, or joint development of the next generation MBTs power-pack?

Hyundai Motor Group possesses world-class technology in the field of hydrogen fuel cells. Based on this expertise, Hyundai Rotem is currently contemplating the utilization of a hydrogen fuel cell-based electrified driving system for the next-generation main battle tank. We anticipate that the development of core technologies for the next-generation tank’s power-pack, utilizing either an electrified driving system or a hybrid system, and the transfer of these technologies to Poland, can be discussed in the future.

Soldiers of the South Korean 26th Armored Battalion of the 8th Mechanized Division demonstrate the capabilities of the hydropneumatic suspension of their K2. The tank has been adapted to the terrain conditions on the Korean Peninsula, so its suspension allows it to both overcome difficult terrain and fire accurate shots on uneven ground

The K1 AVLB assault bridge supports K2 tanks when crossing obstacles such as anti-tank ditches or small ravines

In Poland K2GF and K2PL will operate with M1 and Leopard 2 tanks. Could you provide some information concerning the interoperability of these platforms?

Hyundai Rotem is making every effort to ensure interoperability with other tanks operated by the Polish military. We have already integrated a Battle Management System (BMS) from Poland into the K2GF tank, meeting the specifications of the Polish army. Additionally, to ensure seamless interoperability, we have installed communication equipment approved by the Polish army, guaranteeing no compatibility issues between the systems. Additionally, the K2PL tank is being modified to accommodate NATO standard ammunition from countries such as Germany and the United States, in addition to Korean ammunition.

K2GF tank (center), next to Leopard 2PL (left) and M1A1FEP Abrams (right). All vehicles shown are already in stock of the Polish Army, where the crews undergo intensive training

Will the K2PL be fitted with some technologies which are under development for the K3 program (such as next-generation active protection, see-through-armor, or remote control)?

Korea’s Next-Generation Main Battel Tank are targeted for the late 2030s. Many innovative technologies are being considered for application, and core technology development is underway in stages. By the time the K2PL MBT reaches the first phase of depot maintenance in the late 2030s, it is expected to incorporate the latest technologies associated with next-generation vehicles.

Korean K2 tanks are supported in the field by K1 ARV technical support vehicles / Photos: Jakub Link-Lenczowski

Poland is willing to develop the next-generation wheeled armored personnel carrier (APC). Will HRC place an offer on such a project? If yes, which technology might be crucial to succeed?

Hyundai Rotem is the only official producer and provider of wheeled armored vehicle platform in Korea. So far, HRC has supplied over 600 wheeled armored vehicles to the Republic of Korea Army. Recently, the K808 8×8 wheeled armored vehicle has been selected as the final equipment for supply to Peru. Based on this experience, Hyundai Rotem has developed a 30 ton+ 8×8 wheeled armored vehicle and unveiled a prototype at the Seoul ADEX exhibition in 2023. Building on this new 8×8 wheeled armored vehicle, Hyundai Rotem is currently proposing the New KTO project to Poland. By combining Hyundai Rotem’s advanced drivetrain technology from the automotive specialist group with Poland’s extensive battlefield experience and protection technology, it is anticipated that successful development of the New KTO is achievable. If the New KTO project proceeds within this year, it is expected that New KTO vehicles produced in Poland will be delivered to the Polish Army in 2028.

Which UGV systems might be crucial to be offered to the Polish Army to support K2 or future APC?

Hyundai Rotem’s Unmanned Ground Vehicles (UGVs) are currently being operated in conjunction with wheeled armored vehicles by the South Korean army. In addition to independent operations, they are developing a variety of UGVs for joint operations with vehicles such as the K2, Armored Personnel Carrier (APC), and Next-Generation Armored Personnel Carrier (NG-APC). Considering Ukraine’s battlefield experience, it is estimated that UGVs will be utilized for high-risk reconnaissance missions, such as mine detection/clearance and anti-drone detection/protection missions in the future. For these tasks, it is anticipated that UGV platforms will require appropriate mission equipment, high-mobility/power units similar to armored vehicles, large-capacity energy storage devices, and network battlefield management devices. Through such technologies, it is expected that in the future, effective operational tactics on the battlefield through independent operations of K2, APCs, and UGVs, as well as network-based integrated operations, will contribute to enhancing the combat capabilities of the South Korean and Polish armies.

Name: Junmo Seo

Birth Date & Year: March 9th, 1968

Birth Place: Seoul, Korea

Company: Hyundai Rotem Europe

Rank & Position: President & CEO of HRE (as well as Vice President of Hyundai Rotem Company)


1987: Hongik University High School

1993: Mechanical Engineering, Inha University

Major Carrier

2023.7: President & CEO of Hyundai Rotem Europe

2022.9: Poland Project Group Leader of Hyundai Rotem Company

2020.1: Overseas sales & Marketing Team Leader of Hyundai Rotem Company

2019.8: Member of Overseas sales & Marketing Team of Hyundai Rotem Company

2009.2: Expatriate Member for Altay Project in Turkiye of Hyundai Rotem Company

1992.2: Join to the Hyundai Rotem Company


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