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(LEAD) S. Korea approves plan to mass-produce more K2 main battle tanks

17:08 May 25, 2023

(ATTN: ADDS more details in para 5)

SEOUL, May 25 (Yonhap) -- South Korea on Thursday endorsed a mass production plan for additional K2 main battle tanks to bolster the military's readiness against enemy threats, the state arms procurement agency said.

The Defense Project Promotion Committee approved the 1.94 trillion-won (US$1.46 billion) project set to run over the next five years, according to the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA).

"By acquiring additional K2 tanks through this project, (we) expect them to greatly contribute to enhancing the maneuver corps' capabilities to carry out offensive maneuver warfare," DAPA said.

It did not specify the number of tanks to be built under the project, which marks the fourth round of the mass production of the tanks. K2 tanks have been in service in the Army since 2014.

For the project, the government is seeking to introduce a homegrown transmission for the tank, although it would need to pass evaluations by the Defense Agency for Technology and Quality, according to a DAPA official.

A K2 battle tank crosses a pontoon bridge over the Namhan River in Yeoju, 61 kilometers east of Seoul, during Army river-crossing drills on May 24, 2023. (Yonhap)

The committee also endorsed a 3.09 trillion-won plan to purchase additional early warning and control aircraft from abroad to reinforce the military's aerial surveillance capabilities, according to DAPA.

The project will run through 2031, although DAPA did not disclose the number of the aircraft to be purchased. The Air Force currently operates four early warning and control aircraft.

DAPA said it expects the newly purchased aircraft to further strengthen the military's capabilities in surveillance of North Korean missiles and defending the country's airspace when deployed.


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