Since the beginning of the Russia-Ukraine War in February this year, it has been very difficult for the russian arms industries to keep the production lines on. Russia has suffered heavy losses in the ongoing war, the Ukrainian Army supported by modern anti-tank weapons supplied by NATO and the USA has destroyed huge columns of russian armoured vehicles, currently russia is struggling to fill the gap in its own armed forces. Simply speaking, the Russian Armed Forces are facing a series of difficulties to meet its own huge demands. Plus, the western countries and USA has imposed sanctions on Russia, such as stopping the supply of semiconductor chips to Russia. Forcing Russia to stop producing high-tech weapons, meanwhile on the other side, South Korea is emerging as a big arm exporter. Maybe in the future, South Korea will replace Russia as one of the largest arm exporter in the world.
The Russian-Ukrainian conflict is escalating, and a large amount of Korean weapons are rapidly pouring into NATO countries. NATO countries such as Poland, Turkey, Finland, Norway and Estonia are importing different types of Korean weapons in large quantities.
By 2022, South Korea’s arms exports will be fourth in the world. Poland has directly ordered from Korea 180 K-2 Panther tanks, 212 K-9 155mm self-propelled guns, 48 FA-50 fighters and 288 K-239 missile launchers.
At the same time, Poland also signed a contract to co-produce 640 K-2 main tanks and 428 K-9 155mm self-propelled howitzers. Undoubtedly, European countries increased their purchases of Korean weapons, in order to increase their defense potential against any incoming threat.
And Russia has long been a manufacturing powerhouse; list of Russian weapons, such as Dagger hypersonic missile, Iskander ballistic missile, Su-57 stealth fighter, Su-35 fighter, S-400, S-350 air defense missile, T-tank 90M, 2S35 Koalitsiya-SV self-propelled howitzer… has advanced features and also are very affordable.
Therefore, Russia always maintains the second position in the world in terms of arms production and export, just behind the US. However, the Russian military industry faced the problem of insufficient production capacity. In addition, there is a harsh embargo from the West, causing many components and spare parts to be seriously lacking.
In 2022, the Russian Ministry of Defense ordered 400 T-90 Main Battle Tanks, which will have to be delivered by 2024. In addition, the Russian Army will upgrade 800 T-62 tanks, but this order will not be completed until 2025.
In particular, Russia’s defense industry currently lacks the ability to produce various types of precision-guided bombs and cruise missiles in large quantities; In addition, the production capacity of armored vehicles has also been seriously reduced.
The decline in Russia’s defense production capacity is primarily due to the operating mechanism. For example, in Soviet times, the tank repair plant of the USSR Ministry of Defense had a huge military maintenance system. This agency is responsible for low cost maintenance for units throughout the army.
However, since Russia’s military reform, everything has been commercialized and carried out according to the model of the US Army; i.e. the supplier of the weapon will be the one that warrants and repairs the weapon. This led to the dissolution of the technical guarantee agency in the Russian army.
Besides, Russia’s defense production capacity is low; It should be remembered that the Soviet Union was the first country to invent a complex of active protection for tanks, but many main battle tanks on the Russian-Ukrainian battlefield were not equipped with an active defense system.
Many new Russian weapons are very advanced, but the production number is not enough; therefore, the Russian army has to use a large number of old tanks such as T-62 and T-72, BMP-2 infantry fighting vehicles and Su-25 attack aircraft on the battlefield; as well as a large number of artillery shells and unguided bombs.
Meanwhile, Russia’s opponent, the United States, also has a serious shortage of weapons when it has to “slope” aid to Ukraine. The US military has ordered 700 more HIMARS high mobility multiple launch rocket systems (MLRSs) and Poland will have to wait at least until 2029-2036 to get them.
To meet defense requirements, Poland purchased the Korean version of the MLRS, which is the K239 Chunmoo wheeled modular missile launcher system with American technology; in fact it is a copy of the US HIMARS system, when the two systems can share each other’s ammunition.
Missiles of the K239 Chunmoo system have a range of up to 80 km and tactical missiles have a range of 160 km and have a satellite-guided version of the HIMARS M31. Korean weapons are essentially “American weapons”, but with faster delivery and cheaper prices.