South Korea’s indigenous K-2 Black Panther tank would improve operational capabilities, a Seoul military official said. File Photo courtesy of Republic of Korea Defense Photo Magazine
SEOUL, May 11 (UPI) -- South Korea's military has decided to build an additional 100 K-2 Black Panther tanks.
Seoul's defense ministry already had planned 200 of the tanks, but is to turn out another 100 tanks of the same model in response to North Korea, local news service Newsis reported.
Pyongyang has been stepping up production of its armored fighting vehicles, and South Korea must be prepared, an unidentified military official told local press.
"The need for the army to deploy the new tanks was brought up consistently," the official said. "There is a need to strengthen the power of the military at the battlefront, which is why we are pushing ahead with additional production and placement."
According to the official North Korea's military has been developing hundreds of armored vehicles, including the "Songun Ho" and the "Chonma Ho," since the mid-2000s.
The 100 additional South Korean tanks would "improve operational capabilities," the official said.
The South Korea-made K-2 Black Panther began to be deployed in 2014, and includes a 120-mm smoothbore tank gun. It can travel at up to 44 miles per hour and includes a snorkel function that can allow it to be submerged under 4 meters of water.
North Korea has shown no signs of easing tensions with the South.
During the Seventh Party Congress, Kim Jong Un defended North Korea as a "responsible nuclear weapons state." In response, multiple South Korean government officials have condemned the statement.
On Wednesday North Korea continued to reinforce the outcome of the meeting in a gathering of its most powerful officials, South Korean news network YTN reported.
The meeting convened at the April 25 House of Culture, where the congress was held, and in attendance were Kim Yong Nam, Hwang Pyong So, Pak Pong Ju and Choe Ryong Hae.
All men, members of the party's central committee, adopted a pledge to Kim Jong Un, according to KCNA.