By Kim Eun-jung
SEOUL, April 22 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's project to develop the next-generation K2 battle tank faces another hurdle as its engine failed durability tests, officials at the Defense Acquisition and Procurement Administration (DAPA) said Monday, further delaying the project plagued with technical problems in past years.
Designed to replace the aging K1 and the U.S.-built M48 tanks, the indigenous tank project worth more than 2 trillion won (US1.84 billion) first began in 2006 after a decade of research and development.
But a series of technical problems have been detected in the engine and transmission, the so-called "power pack," and hindered the original plan of starting the mass production of the K2 tank in 2011.
While most other tests have been completed, the tank came to a halt during a durability test earlier this month as its engine cylinders broke down, a DAPA official said.
"The testing is currently put on hold and investigations are underway to figure out the cause of the failure," the official said, asking for anonymity as he was not authorized to speak to the media.
The DAPA will decide whether to extend the testing deadline set for August, depending on the results of the investigation, the official said.
A total of 124 defects took place from February 2009 and October 2010, and 82 errors had been fixed, according to a DAPA report.
Modeled after the German-developed MTU-890, the K2 power pack is made up of a 1,500-horsepower diesel engine and transmission. Doosan Infracore and S&T Dynamics are the two main developers of the homegrown power pack and there are more than 1,000 subcontractors in South Korea.
The new tank features an auto-loaded 120mm cannon, reaches speeds of up to 70 kilometers per hour, and can cross rivers as deep as 4.1 meters using a snorkel, according to the DAPA.
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