The power of new weapons bought from South Korea will become apparent during a joint exercise near the border with Russia in September, Polish Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak has declared. The official added that plans to produce South Korean weapons on-site in Poland are ‘moving forward’.
The production plan was brought up on Thursday during a joint press conference with Blaszczak’s South Korean counterpart, Lee Jong-sup, after talks between the two officials. Warsaw has already purchased billions of dollars’ worth of arms from Seoul, and on-site manufacturing systems will be part of the “second phase” of the two nations’ military cooperation, the Polish minister said.
Warsaw has already ordered Korean K2 tanks, Thunder K9 howitzers, FA-50 training and combat fighter jets and K239 Chunmoo rocket artillery systems. Some early deliveries were demonstrated to the public during a military parade in mid-August, the Polish minister noted.
The weapons will be put on display again in September, when a joint Polish-Korean military exercise dubbed ‘Autumn Fire’ will kick off, the official added.
The drill will take place in the city of Orzysz, some 60 km from the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad, and will involve some 1,000 troops and 70 pieces of military hardware, according to the Polish command. A static exhibition showcasing the equipment used by the army, including that purchased from foreign nations, will be part of the event.
Like many other European states, Poland has depleted some of its arms stockpiles to support the Ukrainian army against Russia, and is purchasing replacement hardware. South Korea, which has declined to aid Kiev militarily, has nevertheless marketed its products to other buyers on the continent.
The arms deal struck with Warsaw last year is worth $13.7 billion and is the biggest ever for South Korea. Poland wants K2 tanks and K9 howitzers produced on its soil as part of the arrangement.
Meanwhile, earlier this week, Poland and the Baltic states urged Russian ally Belarus to evict the troops of private military company Wagner Group, which Minsk agreed to host two months ago.
President Alexander Lukashenko retorted on Thursday that those nations should stop deploying foreign troops on their soil. Otherwise their demands sound “unreasonable and stupid,” he said.