WARSAW, Poland — In what could mark another major acquisition of South Korean weapons by Poland, the country’s Ministry of National Defence is mulling plans to purchase K239 Chunmoo multiple rocket launchers. The negotiations run in parallel with the country’s talks with the United States over a potential purchase of about 500 M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, or HIMARS.
A spokesperson for the Polish ministry confirmed the talks to Defense News, suggesting that Poland’s cooperation with South Korea could extend beyond the weapons’ delivery to future joint manufacturing or upgrades of the launchers.
“We are holding talks with our partners from South Korea with regard to a potential acquisition and joint development of the K239 Chunmoo multi-barreled missile launchers on wheeled platforms,” the spokesperson said.
The ministry representative did not disclose how many launchers made by Hanhwa Group could be ordered, and to what extent the potential purchase could complement the discussed HIMARS acquisition.
In an interview published on Aug. 29 by local daily Polska Times, Poland’s Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Mariusz Błaszczak officially acknowledged Warsaw’s talks with Seoul on the potential procurement of launchers.
These talks “are important, because our order for the HIMARS rocket launchers must take account of the production capacities of the American industry and the needs of the United States Army,” he said. “Of course, I’m aware of these production capacities, and the delivery [of the HIMARS] will be spread over time.”
This suggests that Warsaw could opt for a rapid purchase of an undisclosed number of K239s while awaiting the completion of its HIMARS talks with Washington. The Polish government could also attempt to use the availability of alternative South Korean weapons to negotiate better price and delivery terms with U.S. decision makers.
The potential procurement could further boost Poland’s reliance on South Korean weapons after a string of recently signed deals for the purchase of tanks and howitzers made the country Seoul’s largest defense client in Europe.
On Aug. 26, Błaszczak signed two contracts worth a total $5.8 billion under which 180 K2 tanks are to be delivered to Poland from 2022 to 2025, and 212 howitzers are to be supplied between 2022 and 2026. In addition to this, a deal for the acquisition of South Korean 48 FA-50 light attack aircraft for the Polish Air Force is expected to be signed by the end of this year.
Jaroslaw Adamowski is the Poland correspondent for Defense News.