Hanwha Defense to supply 288 K239 Chunmoo MLRS with rockets to Polish army
According to a tweet posted by Junsupreme (@RyszardJonski) on October 17, Hanwha Defense will supply a total of 288 Chunmoo launchers and 23,000 rockets to Poland. It is planned to use the Jelcz 8×8 and BMS Topaz. The value of this purchase is estimated at $6.12 billion. The executive agreement is to be signed in December, and the first squadron will receive the vehicles in 2023.
As written by Kang Hyun-kyung in the Korea Times, in a media interview on October 14th, Polish Defense Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Mariusz Blaszczak said negotiations between Poland and South Korea had been completed and a contract will be signed during his visit to South Korea next week: “It’s an excellent artillery weapon and based on our observations from the war in Ukraine, we can clearly see how much advantage artillery can create on the battlefield,” Blaszczak was quoted as saying in an interview with local news site I.PL.
The K239 Chunmoo multiple rocket launcher was developed in 2013 by both Hanwha Corporation and Doosan DST to replace the aging K136 Kooryong: the rocket was developed by Hanwha and the launcher by Doosan. The Chunmoo carries two launch pods able to fire different calibers of rockets: it can fire 130mm non-guided rockets (20 rockets in each pod), 227mm non-guided rockets (6 rockets in each pod), and 239mm guided rockets (6 rockets in each pod). The 130mm rockets have a range of 36 Km while the larger 230mm-class rockets have a range of about 80 Km for the non-guided one, and 160 Km for the guided variant. In the South Korean army, a Chunmoo battery consists of 18 vehicles and uses the K200A1 as a command vehicle.
In June 2022, South Korea’s Agency for Defense Development revealed efforts to increase the range of the Chunmoo’s 239 mm rockets to 200 km (120 mi). This would give them range similar to the North Korean 300 mm KN-09. Research and development efforts are evaluating ducted rocket propulsion technology, which adds an air inlet that absorbs external air and combines it with a gas generator for combustion to produce greater thrust, as well as a valve that controls the flow of gas for maneuvering. There is also research into a larger 400 mm rocket, which the Chunmoo could carry four of.
On 27 April 2022, South Korea’s Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) announced a plan to develop a vehicle-mounted tactical surface-to-surface guided weapon (KTSSM-2). The purpose of this development project is to improve the existing KTSSM-1 to increase the range from 180 km (110 mi) to 290 km (180 mi) and integrate tactical ballistic missile systems into various types of Transporter Erector Launcher (TEL) such as the K239 Chunmoo. The development project is scheduled to begin in 2023 and plans to complete the development with a total budget of 1.56 trillion won (US$1.232 billion) by 2034.[
As written here above, on 27 August 2022, Poland’s Defense minister, Mariusz Błaszczak, said he was in negotiations to introduce South Korea’s rocket artillery system. On 13 October 2022, he announced that he had completed negotiations with South Korea to introduce 288 K239 Chunmoo, and the framework agreement would be signed on October 17. Poland had originally intended to procure 500 American M142 HIMARS MLRS but such an order could not be fulfilled in a satisfactory timeline, so it was decided to split the HIMARS order into stages, buying less of them and adding Chunmoo procurement; the first South Korean launchers are to be delivered in 2023.