S. Korean defense firms seek to bolster foothold in Poland at int’l arms exhibition

Major South Korean defense companies have showed off tanks, guided weapons and other key weapons systems at an annual arms exhibition under way in Poland, as they seek to solidify their presence in the European country on the back of successful deals signed last year.

The 31st International Defense Industry Exhibition, or MSPO, got under way Tuesday for a four-day run in Kielce, Poland, after South Korean companies secured major deals last year to supply K2 tanks, K9 self-propelled howitzers, FA-50 light attack aircrafts and Chunmoo multiple rocket launchers to Warsaw.

South Korea took part in this year's exhibition as the lead nation, with 30 defense companies, including Korea Aerospace Industries Ltd. (KAI), Hanwha Aerospace Co. and Hyundai Rotem Co., in attendance.

South Korean weapons systems were featured prominently at the exhibition, with Hanwha Aerospace's Chunmoo multiple rocket launcher on display next to the U.S. High Mobility Artillery Rocket System outside the showroom.

Hyundai Rotem's K2 main battle tank also stood between Germany's Leopard tank and a U.S. Abrams tank in an apparent show of the South Korean-made assets' significance to the Polish military.

LIG Nex1 showcased its Korean GPS Guided Bomb as well as guided weapons, including the Chiron.

Polish President Andrzej Duda, who attended the event, toured each of the South Korean companies' booths in a sign of his country's commitment to strengthening bilateral defense ties. In July, Duda met President Yoon Suk Yeol for a summit in Warsaw, where they agreed to make efforts to bolster arms industry cooperation.

South Korean companies sought to expand their foothold in Poland into new areas of cooperation, with Hanwha Group Vice Chairman Kim Dong-kwan briefing Duda on the group's KSS-III submarines, as Warsaw seeks to acquire submarines through its "Orka" program.

KAI, meanwhile, signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Poland's state arms producer, Polish Armaments Group (PGZ), for follow-up cooperation in their FA-50 aircraft deal.

Last year, KAI signed the deal to supply 48 FA-50 jets to Poland through 2028, with the first batch of the jets arriving in the country in July.

"While we have sold our (aircraft) platform to Poland, we have yet to develop a system for follow-up projects, so through this MOU with PGZ, I believe we have an opportunity to make progress in such projects related to equipment or logistics support." KAI CEO Kang Goo-young said in a group interview on the sidelines of the event

Kang also plans to use the exhibition to not only promote the FA-50 but also the KF-21 fighter jet currently under development.

"As we have already seen success with the FA-50, we now need to transition the KF-21 to become our key export product," he said. "We seek to make progress to inform not only Poland but other nearby countries about our new product through MSPO."

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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