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The K2 Black Panther is a South Korean main battle tank that will replace most of the various models of M48 Patton tanks and complement the K1 series of main battle tanks now fielded by the Republic of Korea. The mass production started in 2013 and the first K2 joined the armed forces in June 2014. A K2 costs over US$8.8 million per unit.
Korean K2 Tank Papercraft
In 1995, the South Korean Agency for Defense Development was given the task of developing a modern armored fighting vehicle based upon Korean state-of-the-art domestic technologies. It was intended for this development program to further modernize the Republic of Korea Army; despite the superior capability of existing K1 and K1A1 designs versus existing North Korean tanks; most of which are aging T-55s and Type 59s. Emphasis upon indigenous technologies would also allow the proposed vehicle to enter the export market without licensing issues.
Early design variants included a version with an unmanned turret, which was later scrapped in favor of manned turret designs. It was also planned for the vehicle to be equipped with Rheinmetall’s experimental 140 mm smoothbore gun, though this had to be abandoned when Rheinmetall ceased development upon the rationale that its current weapon, the 120 mm/L55 would be more than adequate to counter prospective armored threats for the foreseeable future. The K2 was subsequently reconfigured for the 120 mm/L55, though it is capable of mounting the 140 mm gun with minimum modifications should the need arise.
The design became production-ready in 2006, following 11 years in development and a research budget expenditure of approximately US$230 million, and entered production phase on March 2, 2007 in Changwon, South Korea.