By the 1970s, North Korea had already fielded the T-62, a Soviet tank with a powerful 115-millimeter cannon. This tank outclassed the South Korean M-48, which had only a 90-millimeter gun. Because of this problem, the country began to develop the K1 88-Tank in collaboration with General Dynamics Land Systems, which had a 105 mm gun, similar to the original Abrams. Although it was dangerous in itself, the entire tank was small, which led the American military to call it “baby Abrams.”
Although the K1 was superior to the North Korean tanks in every way, this first iteration could not be perfect, as many of the components came from outside of Korea. This dependence on foreign parts led to the desire to produce a domestic tank that was based on other Korean factories. The journey began in 1995, when engineers began to refine the technology of the best tanks in the world.
The project began with the German Rheinmetall 120-millimeter L55 gun with its own firing mechanism and fire control system from the French Leclerc. Korean engineers will also modify the German MTU-890 V12 diesel engine.
Research and development enabled South Korea to incorporate the world’s most advanced military technologies into the K2 Black Panther, and the time spent on the redesign removed the country’s reliance on imported materials. Research and development of the K2 was completed in 2006, with the first tanks being delivered by the ROK in 2014.