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“Black Leopard” Almighty

Posted March. 03, 2007 03:24,   


A next-generation tank (XK2) of world-class level has been developed based on independent domestic technology.

On February 2, at the Changwon test field in Gyeongnam, the Agency for Defense and Development (ADD) held a ceremony of the marketable model of the XK2, which was attended by President Roh Moo-hyun and officials of the army and defense companies.

Developed by Korean defense companies such as ADD and Rotem over a 12-year span and costing more than 200 billion won, it is appraised to be equal or superior to the Leopard-2A6 of Germany, the M-1A2 Abrahams of the U.S., the Type 90 of Japan and the Leclerc of France in terms of mobility, fire force and survivability.

Nicknamed “black leopard,” this next-generation tank costs 8.3 billion apiece, and will be placed for actual use starting in 2011, replacing the currently used K-1A1 tanks following a test assessment by the land force through the end of next year and another two years of a mass production period.

World-class High-tech Tank-

Kim Ui-hwan, head of the tank system division of ADD says, “The next-generation tank is an electronic one based on a new concept that makes full use of information technology and is designed to suit the geography of Korea where there are many mountains.” Leopard and Abrahams, which are said to be the best existing tanks, are mechanic ones developed in the 1970s and 80s, and Leclerc, developed in early 90s, is the only electronic tank. First of all, the fire force and accuracy rate were dramatically improved through IT technology. Like Leclerc, the next generation tank can accommodate three tank crews on board. Unlike mechanic tanks like Leopard or Abrahams in which the cannons are loaded by loader soldiers, this tank does not require a loader soldier since it is equipped with an automatic loading system. Instead, the space saved by this function loading without a loader soldier was used to increase the amount of cannons stored.

In addition, a 120mm 55 caliber smoothbore gun, which is longer than the 120mm 44 caliber gun by about 1.3 meters, was attached, and the ability to destroy enemy tanks was greatly improved with this new type of cannons.

Furthermore, unlike mechanical tanks that stop moving when shooting, this tank has the ability to shoot while in motion with its electronic aiming control system. In particular, this tank’s automatic target detection, tracing system and its automatic ally/foe identification ability are superior to those of Leclerc.

It also has better survival ability. It is equipped with an air defense ability for attacking an enemy helicopter with multipurpose intensive explosives, and it can escape missiles with its automatic warning, induction and disturbance equipments. Among existing tanks, XK2 is the only one with the ability to engage in combat with a helicopter. It can also move in water at a depth of 4.1 meters and shoot immediately after floating over the surface. Leclerc can dive up to four meters in depth, and others can dive up to about two meters. With the performance of its engine raised to 1,500 horsepower (that of K-1A1 is 1200 horsepower), it has a better mobility and can run at 70 km/h.

Values of Development-

ADD Director Ahn Dong-man said, “Having developed a tank, a land weapon symbol, based on independent technology, we not only can secure superiority over the panzer force of North Korea but also can export the tank since it has high-tech performance and price competitiveness.” The army is especially hopeful that the next-generation tank will fill the vacuum created in the land force, which will be reduced according to the “Open National Defense 2020” scheme.