On 6 December 2022, Hanwha announced that they had delivered the first batch of 24 K9 Self-Propelled Howitzers (SPHs) and 10 K2 Black Panther Main Battle Tanks (MBTs) to the Polish Armed Forces. The batch arrived in the Polish Port of Gdynia on 5 December, with a handover ceremony taking place the next day.

The SPHs in question were referred to as ‘K9PL’ by Hanwha, and they are essentially the K9A1 variant provided with some Polish domestic components, such as the WB Group TOPAZ Integrated Combat Management System (IMCS) and Polish communications systems. To make matters somewhat confusing, during MSPO 2022, the ‘K9PL’ designation was reported to be intended for a later variant of the K9 family which will be based on the K9A2 variant and produced in Poland. As such, there would now seem to be two different vehicles which are being referred to under the ‘K9PL’ name.

This ‘K9PL’ (K9A1) delivery took only about three months after a contract was signed in late August. Under the contract, Hanwha is due to deliver 212 ‘K9PL’ (K9A1) SPHs by 2026, with plans in place to manufacture the ‘K9PL’ (K9A2) in Poland from 2026 onwards, in cooperation with Polska Grupa Zbrojeniowa (PGZ), which presently manufactures the AHS Krab SPH. Poland’s framework agreement with Hanwha Defense covers the purchase of a total of 672 K9 family SPHs, suggesting that Poland plans to manufacture around 460 ‘K9PL’ (K9A2). In addition to this, Poland’s ‘K9PL’ (K9A1) SPHs are planned to later be upgraded to the ‘K9PL’ (K9A2) standard.

In support of their agreement with Poland, Hanwha also plans to build a Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) centre in Poland to provide logistics support to Poland and other K9 user countries across the European region.

In terms of MBTs, under Poland’s framework agreement with Hyundai Rotem struck in July, the latter is due to deliver 1,000 K2 family MBTs. However, under present plans, it is understood that Hyundai Rotem would deliver the first 180 MBTs from 2022-2026 in the baseline K2 variant, with the remaining 820 being built in both Poland as the ‘K2PL’ variant, which would feature some differences from the baseline K2 variant. These are expected to include an explosive reactive armour (ERA) package, an Active Protection System (APS), Polish communications systems, and a 360° local situational awareness system.

The handover ceremony was attended by Polish Government leadership including President Andrzej Duda and Defence Minister Mariusz Blaszczak. Among the South Korean participants were Minister Eom Dong-hwan of the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA); Deputy Minister Yoo Dong-joon of the Ministry of National Defense; Son Jaeil, President and CEO of Hanwha Aerospace; and Executive Vice President Lee Boo-hwan of Hanwha Aerospace’s Business in Europe.