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The K1A1 main battle tank is an improved version of the K1. It was developed in South Korea by Hyundai. It is broadly similar to the US M1A1 Abrams in terms of firepower and protection. First production vehicle was completed in 1996, however it entered service with the ROK Army only in 2001. About 300 of these tanks will be built by 2010.
The K1A1 is up-gunned comparing with it's predecessor and has a number of other improvements. It is worth mentioning, that a number of major components, such as engine, transmission and fire control system, were imported from other countries.
The K1A1 is armed with a more powerful 120-mm smoothbore gun. It is a license-produced US M256 tank gun. The same gun is installed on the M1A1 and M1A2 Abrams. It has twice the penetration power, comparing with the previous 105-mm rifled gun. It also has longer range of effective fire. Vehicle is compatible with standard NATO 120-mm ammunition. This gun is loaded manually.
The K1A1 MBT has improved fire control system. It has a first round hit probability of more than 90%, while on the move against moving target. It also has hunter killer capability and allows to engage targets at night.
Vehicle is also armed with 7.62-mm coaxial machine gun. Two more machine guns are mounted on top of turret roof. Commander operates a 12.7-mm MG, and gunner operates another 7.62-mm machine gun.
Protection of the K1A1 is broadly similar to the M1A1 Abrams. Vehicle has a composite armor, but lacks depleted uranium plates. Ammunition is stored in the turret bustle, fitted with blow-out panels.
The K1A1 tank has a crew of four, including commander, gunner, loader and driver.
This Korea tank is powered by the MTU MB 871 Ka-501 turbocharged diesel engine, developing 1 200 hp. This German engine is license-produced in South Korea. The K1A1 has a hybrid hydropneumatic and torsion bar suspension. It allows vehicle to "kneel" and increases the main gun depression angle.