Tanktastic - K2 Black Panther MBT Review

"Knowledge is power"
Tanktastic Reviews: K2 Black Panther

~ Index ~
~ History ~
~ In-game overview ~
~ Modules and upgrades ~
~ Getting the best outta it & Dealing with one ~
~ References & Credits ~
~ Special thanks ~

History ~
In 1995, the South Korean Agency for Defense Development was given the task of developing a modern armored fighting vehicle based upon Korean state-of-the-art domestic technologies. It was intended for this development program to further modernize the Republic of Korea Army; despite the superior capability of existing K1 and K1A1 designs versus existing North Korean tanks; most of which are aging T-55s and Type 59s. Emphasis upon indigenous technologies would also allow the proposed vehicle to enter the export market without licensing issues.
Early design variants included a version with an unmanned turret, which was later scrapped in favor of manned turret designs. It was also planned for the vehicle to be equipped with Rheinmetall's experimental 140 mm smoothbore gun, though this had to be abandoned when Rheinmetall ceased development upon the rationale that its current weapon, the 120 mm/L55 would be more than adequate to counter prospective armored threats for the foreseeable future. The K2 was subsequently reconfigured for the 120 mm/L55, though it is capable of mounting the 140 mm gun with minimum modifications should the need arise.
The design became production-ready in 2006, following 11 years in development and a research budget expenditure of approximately US$230 million, and entered production phase on March 2, 2007 in Changwon, South Korea.

It was planned that the K2 would feature a domestically-designed powerpack, based upon the German-designed MTU-890, comprising a Doosan Infracore Corporation 1500 horsepower 12-cylinder diesel engine and a S&T Dynamics transmission. However, this encountered recurrent technical trouble in testing, leading to a delay in operational deployment of the K2 for two years.
In March 2011, South Korea's Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) announced that mass production of the K2, which the Army was expecting to deploy in 2012, would not happen until due to problems concerning its engine and transmission. In April 2012, DAPA announced that due to ongoing issues with the reliability and durability of the domestically-produced powerpack, the first 100 production K2s would use a MTU powerpack and that service entry would be delayed until March 2014.

On 26 September 2014, the K2 was demonstrated to 40 foreign military visitors from 9 countries at DX Korea 2014. When compared to the K1A1 tank, the K2's main gun reloaded quicker and reached targets faster. Although both are 120 mm, the K2's barrel is 1.3m longer (6.6m total length), resulting in a faster muzzle velocity of 1,400 m/s (compared to 1,140 m/s for the K1A1) for higher accuracy and armor penetration. Other features demonstrated included the tank's ability to cross a 4m-deep river, a posture control function that can lower its height by 40 cm, and a laser warning systems that turned the turret towards the source almost instantaneously. Personnel from Hungary and others expressed interest in the K2 after the event.
The K2 Black Panther tank was put into service in July 2014. Faulty indigenous engines and transmissions previously halted production, but the lowering of required acceleration performance allowed it to enter service. The "power pack" of tank is locally developed, but based on the German-made MTU-890 1,500 horsepower diesel engine and transmission. Around 100 K2s will be deployed by 2017.

~ In-Game Overview ~

The K2 Black Panther is a high-tier S.Korean main battle tank and represents one of the latest and most technologically-advanced MBTs in the world. As such, it doesn't come as a surprise that this tank is also one of the most expensive units in Tanktastic.
  • Silver currency purchase price22,000 coins. This purchase option is unlocked once reaching rank 44, Brigadier General Grade 1.
  • Gold currency purchase price1,200 coins. This purchase option is unlocked once reaching rank 40, Lieutenant Colonel Grade 1.
Despite being one of the highest-tier MBTs in the game, even once fully upgraded and despite reaching level 67, the K2 Black Panther falls behind the S.Korean SPG K9 Thunder, which reaches level 70, once fully upgraded.
  • Tier development: level 60 to level 67.
  • Tech tree: Eastern Regions tech tree - S.Korean line.

~ Modules and Upgrades ~

K2 Black Panther's starting stats:
• Health: 696.0
• Armor: 494.0
• Damage: 359.0
• Speed: 45.0
• Reloading speed: 1.7
• Turret rotation speed: 30.0
• Damage per minute: 12670.6

Fully upgraded K2 Black Panther's stats:
• Health: 696.0
• Armor: 827.3
• Damage: 359.0
• Speed: 61.1
• Reloading speed: 1.3
• Turret rotation speed: 46.0
• Damage per minute: 16569.2

• Hull upgrades: two-tier hull upgrade available. (Upgrade class II)

The K2 Black Panther features a two-tiers hull upgrade; both are required in order to acquire most upgrades and don't change the tank's appearance; as of patch 1.22.

Health pool:
• Health pool upgrades: no upgrades available. (N.A.)

The K2 Black Panther doesn't feature any health pool upgrades; even worse, the tank's starting health pool is slightly below average for its tier range. Hit points are definitely an issue.

Armour and Active Protection System:
• Passive armor upgrades: two-tier upgrade available. (Upgrade class II)
• Reactive armor upgrade: two-tier upgrade available. (Upgrade class II)
• Spaced armor upgrades: no upgrades available. (N.A.)
• Active protection system (APS) upgrades: two-tier upgrade available. (Upgrade class II)

Details of the composite armor of the Black Panther are classified. The frontal armor has been proven to be effective at defeating the 120 mm APFSDS round fired from the L55 gun. Explosive Reactive Armor blocks are also present, with the addition of Non-Explosive Reactive Armor planned for the K2 PIP version.
Defense against incoming missiles is provided by a soft-kill anti-missile system. The K2 PIP will likely deploy a hard-kill anti-missile defense system when it is released within the next few years.
The millimeter band radar system mounted on the turret is capable of operating as a Missile Approach Warning System (MAWS). The vehicle's computer in turn can triangulate incoming projectiles, immediately warn the vehicle crew and fire off Visual and Infrared Screening Smoke (VIRSS) grenades, which can effectively block optical, infrared and radar signatures. Once the hard-kill AMS is installed, the radar system will also be responsible for tracking and targeting the incoming missiles for the AMS.
The K2 also has a Radar Warning Receiver (RWR) and radar jammer. Four all-bearing Laser warning receivers (LWR) are also present to alert the crew should the vehicle become "painted", and the computer can also fire off VIRSS grenades in the direction that the beam is coming from.
An automatic fire suppression system is programmed to detect and put out any internal fires that may occur, and atmospheric sensors alert the crew if the tank enters a hazardous environment.
Beside the fairly high starting overall protection values, the K2 Black Panther features a two-tier  passive armor upgrade, as well as a two-tier reactive armor upgrade. A major downside, when it comes to protection, however, is the total absence of spaced armor, which makes the K2 Black Panther vulnerable to HEAT rounds.
Neverthless, the front armour, is just amazing and perfectly capable of withstanding direct hits with relative ease, should the need arise; the turret front, in particular, is very tough indeed, being also heavily sloped.
The K2 Black Panther also features a two-tier APS (Active-Protection System) upgrade; which provides an additional degree of protection against ATGMs.

Main gun and ammunition:
• Main armament upgrades: no upgrades available. (N.A.)

• Ammunition types and upgrades:
Armor Piercing (AP): one-tier ammo upgrade available. Damage increased with each tier. (Upgrade class I)
Armor Piercing Discarding Sabot (APDS): one-tier ammo upgrade available. Damage increased with each tier. (Upgrade class I)
High Explosive Anti-Tank (HEAT): one-tier upgrade available. Damage increased with each tier. (Upgrade class I)
High Explosive (HE): one-tier upgrade available. Damage increased with each tier. (Upgrade class I)
Anti-Tank Guided Missile (ATGM): one-tier ammo upgrade available. (Upgrade class I)

The K2 Black Panther is armed with a Rheinmetall 120mm/L55 smoothbore gun. This gun is license-produced in South Korea.
The 120mm gun can fire variety of munitions. It is compatible with all standard NATO tank rounds. It is also capable of firing the new KSTAM (Korean Smart Top-Attack Munition) rounds. These are smart target-activated fire-and-forget projectiles, but shouldn't be confused with anti-tank guided missiles. The KSTAM has its own guidance system, aided by four stabilizing fins. At the final stage a parachute will deploy to slow its fall and accurately engage target. Such principle is broadly similar to mortar-launched anti-tank munitions. Furthermore the K-2 tank can fire KSTAM munitions from behind the cover. The KSTAM has a maximum effective range of 8 kilometers.
The K2 is also equipped with an advanced fire-control system (FCS) linked to a millimeter band radar system deployed on the frontal arc of the turret, along with a traditional laser range-finder and crosswind sensor. The system is capable of a "lock-on" mode, which can acquire and track specific targets up to a range of 9.8 km using thermal optics. This allows the crew to fire accurately while moving as well as effectively engage low-flying aircraft. The FCS is also linked to an advanced gun stabilizer and trigger-delay mechanism to optimise accuracy while moving in uneven terrain. Should the trigger on the main gun be pulled at the moment the tank encounters an irregularity in the terrain, oscillation of the gun barrel will cause temporary misalignment between a laser emitter at the top of the barrel and a sensor at the base. This will delay the FCS from activating until the beam is re-aligned, improving the chances of hitting the intended target.
The Korean Gunner's Primary Sight (KGPS) and the Korean Commander's Panoramic Sight (KCPS) are present in the Black Panther as in the original series of K1A1 tanks, though modified to utilize the more advanced sensors and armaments deployed on the K2.
The commander of the tank has the ability to override the command to take control of the turret and gun from the gunner. Moreover, unconfirmed reports state that, in the event of an emergency, the vehicle can be operated by only two, or even a single, crew member. It is speculated that the FCS can automatically spot and track visible targets, compare them using the data link established with other friendly vehicles to prevent redundant target engagements, and fire its main gun without manual input.

Despite the capability of accomodating a 140mm gun, the K2 Black Panther's damage output is slightly below average for its tier range, probably hinting that the in-game version can only be fitted with the Rheinmetall 120mm/L55 smoothbore gun and clearly a way to make the tank more balanced.
Evidence supporting this theory is the total absence of any main armament upgrades.

• Engine upgrades: four-tier upgrade available. (Upgrade class IV)

The K2 Black Panther is powered by a MT 833 diesel engine provided by Tognum. The engine generates 1,500hp and provides a power to weight ratio of 27.3hp/t. The fully automatic transmission of the vehicle includes five forward and three reverse gears.
The Black Panther fields an advanced suspension system, called the In-arm Suspension Unit (ISU), which allows for individual control of every bogie on the tracks. This allows the K2 to "sit", "stand" and "kneel", as well as "lean" towards one side or a corner. "Sitting" gives the tank a lower profile and offers superior handling over roads. "Standing" gives the vehicle higher ground clearance for maneuverability over rough terrain. "Kneeling" augments the angular range in which the tank's gun barrel can elevate and depress, allowing the vehicle to fire its main gun downhill as well as engage low-flying aircraft more effectively. The suspension unit also cushions the chassis from vibrations when travelling over uneven terrain, as the bogies can be adjusted individually on-the-fly.
The MBT has an off-road speed of 50km/h and can attain a maximum speed of 70km/h on road. It can traverse a maximum range of 450km.
The vehicle is also equipped with a dynamic track tension system (DTTS) as well as roll, pitch and bounce control system.
The K2 Black Panther features a four-tier engine upgrade: once fullly upgraded, this MBT is very fast and extremely agile.
The engine is located at the rear end of the tank, in a slightly-elevated position in comparison to the rest of the hull. The engine is compact and subsequently not particularly easy to hit: engine fires and breakdowns shouldn't be a common issue.

Reloading system / Loader skill:
• Reloading system / Loader skill upgrades: three-tier upgrade available. (Upgrade class III)

The K2 Black Panther's main gun is complemented by an autoloader, similar to that designed for the French Leclerc; it can fire up to 20 rounds a minute or every 3 seconds, without being affected by the gun's angle. The ammunition for the main gun is loaded in a 16-shell magazine, with a total ammunition capacity of 40.
True to its real-life counterpart, the K2 Black Panther featured in Tanktastic possesses, once fully-upgraded, the highest RoF in the entire game, along with the US M8 AGS light tank. A three-tier reloading system upgrade makes all this a reality; and, subsequently, despite the tank's relatively low damage output, the K2 Black Panther's DPM only falls behind the absurd Type 10's.

Turret rotation system:
• Turret rotation system upgrades: two-tier upgrade available. (Upgrade Class II)

The K2 Black Panther features a two-tier turret rotation system upgrade: once fully upgraded, the tank can perform a full turret rotation in less than 8 seconds. Aside from rare, particular instances, this MBT is extremely difficult to successfully outflank while avoiding any returning fire.

Additional upgrades:
• Radio upgrades: one-tier upgrade available. (Upgrade class I)
• Radar upgrades: two-tier upgrade available. (Upgrade class II)
• Smoke grenade dischargers upgrades: four-tier upgrade available. (Upgrade class IV)
• Infrared optics upgrades: one-tier upgrade available. (Upgrade class I)
• Thermal optics upgrades: one-tier upgrade available. (Upgrade class I)
• Fording kit upgrades: one-tier upgrade available. (Upgrade class I)
• Floating kit upgrades: no upgrades available. (N.A.)

Getting the best outta it ~
~ Dealing with one ~    
Now that we have analyzed the characteristics of the Type 99, it's time to sum up:

• Good front hull and turret armour.
• Outstanding reloading speed, which, combined with the adequate damage dealt by the tank's main gun, grants this tank an extremely high DPM.
• Amazing power-to-weight ratio: this tank is extremely agile as well as featuring a great acceleration.
• Very high speed.
• The turret has a very low silhouette as well as being very tough, allowing for hull-down engagements.
• Very high turret rotation speed.

• The tank's health pool is below average for its tier range.
• Total absence of spaced armor: this tank is very vulnerable to HEAT rounds.
• Passive armour and protection values, aside from the frontal arc, are not particularly great.
The tank's main gun is inaccurate, especially when firing HEAT rounds.

Getting the best out of it:
The K2 Black Panther is a very versatile high-tier MBT, perfectly capable of performing a wide range of different roles.
Despite not being particularly suited for holding the frontline, it is perfectly capable of engaging enemies head on, very similarly to the M1A2 Abrams: when it comes to close-quarters engagements, remember to take full advantage of your amazing agility and make sure to always keep your front armor towards your opponents, thus preventing them from having solid shots on your fragile side and rear armour.
However, unlike one might expect at this point, this MBT is even less suited for long-range engagements: sniping is not really a solid option; one of the major downsides of the K2 Black Panther is, in fact, its main armament's low accuracy, particularly noticeable when firing HEAT rounds. This severely hinders this MBT's great potential as a deadly effective long-range sniper, having an exceptional RoF and tough turret armor, just like the Leopard 2A4, which would allow for successful distant hull-down engagements.
The K2 Black Panther is, instead, at its best when used as a fast and extremely effective interceptor or ambusher. Never engage enemies at long-range: wait for them, use your high speed and agility to close the distance, and only then, once at mid to close range, engage them, though, obviously enough, the closer, the better. Try and take your opponents by surprise and use your DPM to rip them to shreds, before they can even notice it, particularly, heavily armored targets with a relatively low health pool. Remember that you can't afford to waste many shots nor can you afford to take much returning fire yourself.
After a successful engagement, immediately get away from the heat of the battle by using your high speed and, possibly, activate your smoke grenade dischargers; then, locate your next target and just repeat the process: remember that the K2 Black Panther only excels when in complete control of the engagement and against one opponent at a time.

Dealing with one:
Dealing with a K2 Black Panther is very similar to engaging an M1A2 Abrams, though arguably less tricky, depending upon the distance of the engagement itself; that said, however, as goes for any other tank, never underestimate one: this MBT can prove to be a fearsome and tough opponent to take down, particularly if driven by experienced players who can take full advantage of its strong points.
Avoid engaging one head on, especially at close to very-close range: its potential RoF and DPM pose a serious treath to any tanks it may face on the battlefield, notably heavily armored units with a relatively limited amount of hit points. Therefore, despite how inviting its thin side armor may be, remember that trying to outflank a K2 Black Panther is quite risky indeed, though undeniably a viable way to make short work of one, especially when using HEAT rounds.
Avoid letting one catch you by surprise and take full advantage of its major downsides; first and foremost, its main armament's poor accuracy: always keep your distance and make sure to always engage one at mid to long range. Many of its shots are certain to miss, subsequently negating its main and fearsome advantage, i.e. the potential DPM. After all, despite its solid front armour, this MBT lacks spaced armor upgrades and its health pool is nothing to stare in awe at, so, it won't take many direct hits before going down anyway; make sure to use HEAT rounds to maximize your damage output and aim for its tracks, so that you may even have a chance to immobilize it, effectively preventing it from trying and close the distance. Alternatively, if you just want to be sure to score a direct hit, just aim for the flat front armour plate to deal the most damage.

Here I end my review of the K2 Black Panther, a deadly S.Korean steel-clad kitty always waiting in ambush!
I apologize in advance should something written being wrong and I hope you enjoyed it.
Take care on the battlefield, fellow tank commanders!

~ References & Credits ~
• Armedforces-Int.com
• Www.tankencyclopedia.com
• Www.military-today.com
• Www.army-technology.com

~ Special thanks to ~
• User "Fiutel_88" for allowing me to perform armour and miscellaneous tests on his K2 Black Panther.
• And last but not least all of you who took time to read this review!

Copying/Using any part of this review anywhere else is strictly forbidden, unless my proper authorisation is given. Please, contact me in the case.
@2016 Altank

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