MORAG, Poland (AP) — Poland sealed a deal with South Korea on Friday to purchase $5.8 billion worth of tanks, howitzers and ammunition as the European country steps up its defense and deterrence capabilities in the face of Russia’s war in Ukraine.
Polish Deputy Prime Minister Mariusz Blaszczak, who is the defense minister, signed the contracts to confirm them and handed them to the head of South Korea’s defense acquisition program administration, Minister Eom Dong-hwan, at a military base in the northern Poland town of Morag.
“It is most important that the first tanks and cannon howitzers will be available to Poland's army this year," Blaszczak said during the ceremony. “We are strengthening Poland's defenses."
Speaking through an interpreter, the Korean minister stressed the good relations and trust that the two countries have developed in their business, social and cultural ties.
Also attending the ceremony were the heads of the Korean plants involved in the contracts as well as Polish tank crews who will go to Korea for training in October.
Poland’s conservative government has worked to strengthen the country's armed forces in response to neighboring Russia’s aggression.
Poland, like other European nations and the United States, has sent military equipment to Ukraine during the 6-month war. The Polish government is seeking to replace of that equipment, including with U.S.-made Abrams tanks.
Under the deal with South Korea, Poland is purchasing 180 K2 Black Panther tanks made by Hyundai Rotem and worth $3.4 billion, along with 212 K9 Thunder howitzers made by Hanhwa Defense, worth $2.4 billion. The deal includes training, logistics and ammunition.
All of the items are expected to arrive by the end of 2025.
Poland and South Korea also plan to sign a deal this year for the purchase of 12 FA-50 planes, a light training and combat aircraft made jointly by Korea Aerospace and Lockheed Martin, according to Blaszczak.
Poland is also seeking a technology transfer so it can launch production domestically.
Follow all AP developments related to the war in Ukraine at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine.