Poland buy S.Korean rocket launchers after tank, howitzer sales

South Korean K2 Black Panther tank displayed at defense exhibition
A K2 Black Panther tank manufactured by South Korea's Hyundai Rotem is displayed at the Seoul International Aerospace & Defense Exhibition, Seoul, South Korea, October 20, 2021. REUTERS/Josh Smith

SEOUL, Oct 19 (Reuters) - Poland signed an agreement on Wednesday to buy 288 artillery rocket launchers in its latest arms deal with South Korea, following shipments of tanks and howitzers, as it ramps up weapons imports after Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

The first 18 of the Chunmoo rocket launchers will be delivered as soon as 2023 to protect eastern Poland, Defence Minister Mariusz Błaszczak said. The weapons are made by Hanwha Defense, the defence unit of South Korea's Hanwha Corp. (000880.KS)

The agreement comes as South Korean companies shipped the first batch of tanks and howitzers to Poland.

The two countries signed a $5.8 billion contract in Warsaw in July in a deal that Poland said was a key part of its effort to beef up its military after Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

The Feb. 24 invasion, which Russia calls a "special military operation", has raised security fears among many former eastern bloc countries. NATO member Poland has vowed to boost defence spending to 3% of gross domestic product and to more than double the size of its army.

Hyundai Rotem Co. (064350.KS) said its first shipment included 10 K2 Black Panther tanks of the 180 to be delivered by 2025. Hanwha Defense said it was sending 24 K9 self-propelled howitzers, among 212 to be shipped by 2026.

Poland has also agreed to buy 48 FA-50 fighter jets from South Korea. Mariusz Blaszczak, Poland's defence minister, said in a July media interview the aircraft would be delivered next year.

Reporting by Soo-hyang Choi; Additional reporting by Anna Koper and Pawel Florkiewicz in Warsaw Editing by Gerry Doyle, Peter Graff

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