Strona główna

Anti Tank Grenade Launchers Tender Scheduled Next Year. Weapons for the Polish Territorial Defence units?

Currently, Polish Armed Forces primarily use the obsolete RPG-7 grenade launchers. Image Credit: D. Kudlewski/10th Armoured Cavalry Brigade
Currently, Polish Armed Forces primarily use the obsolete RPG-7 grenade launchers. Image Credit: D. Kudlewski/10th Armoured Cavalry Brigade

The Armament Inspectorate provided us with information, suggesting that “initiation and carrying out” the proceedings, the aim of which would be to acquire disposable anti tank grenade launchers, are scheduled to happen next year. Realization of the programme would make it possible to significantly increase the anti-tank defence capabilities possessed by the Polish Army. Light anti-tank weaponry will probably also constitute an important element of the kit, used by the Territorial Defence units, that are being formed at the moment.

The Armament Inspectorate plans to initiate and carry out a programme, regarding acquisition of single-use, disposable anti-tank grenade launchers. According to the information we have received from Małgorzata Ossolinska, working at the Armament Inspectorate: “Initiating and carrying out a procedure, the aim of which would be to acquire disposable anti-tank grenade launchers for the Polish Army, is planned to be realized in 2016”.

Procurement of the anti-tank grenade launchers will “close an important gap” in the Polish anti-tank defence capabilities which – at the moment, at the level of an infantry team – are provided, above all, by soldiers using the obsolete Soviet-made RPG-7 rocket-propelled grenade launchers. The disposable RPG-76 Komar [Mosquito] launchers, which were being used operationally during the Iraq deployment, have been withdrawn.

After the Warsaw Pact was dissolved, the Polish Army decided to procure minor quantities of modern anti-tank weaponry, including Carl Gustaf or AT-4 anti tank weapons. However, these systems are being used e.g. by the Special Forces. Thus, they had no positive impact on general level of capabilities offered by the armament used by the general units. In the light of the above, acquisition of light anti-tank weapons is particularly significant and important for the Polish Armed Forces.

According to the information provided by Lt. Col. Ossolinska, the analytical-concept phase of the potential procurement was focused on assessing the solutions proposed by five manufacturers:

a) Zakłady Metalowe DEZAMET S.A., together with the Nammo Raufoss AS company,

b)   Saab Technologies Poland Sp. z o.o.,

c)   Instalaza S.A.,

d)   Cenrex sp. z o.o. (representing the Bulgarian Armar Corp. GTC company)

e)    PHU IMS-GRIFFIN Sp. z o.o. (representing the German Dynamit Nobel Defence GmbH company).

The technical dialogue’s requirements assumed that the newly procured weapon shall be light-weight. The weight of the system should make it possible for a single soldier to carry the weapon. Moreover, the grenade launcher shall be capable of destroying armoured vehicles and infantry fighting vehicles, along with contemporary main battle tanks (in the areas where their armour is thinner), or older tanks without additional armour (e.g. slat armour) or active defence suites. Finally, the soldier shall be capable of firing the weapon during the day and in the conditions with limited visibility, also from closed quarters of low volume (e.g. cellars).

The announcement provided to by Lt. Col. Ossolinska stated that the Armament Inspectorate is also considering acquisition of a grenade launcher utilizing a tandem-HEAT warhead, should the requirements related to armour penetration be met. Such solution would make it possible to use the weapon effectively against the targets covered with the reactive armour. At the same time, the Armament Inspectorate, during the analytical-conceptual phase, received information regarding the tandem warheads, even though – as Lt. Col. Ossolinska notes – this information is not contained in an offer.

Capability to destroy ERA is especially important, since weaker points of the armour are being often protected by this type of elements. Even if obtaining penetration parameters that would make it possible to penetrate the main armour of the modern tanks in the areas that are most protected (e.g. the front part of the turret) may turn out to be problematic, the newly procured weapons shall make it possible to penetrate the armour in the areas that are weaker, even in case when these areas are covered with Explosive Reactive Armour.

Moreover, anti-cumulation protection may be also applied in case of the armoured personnel carriers – such as the Ukrainian BTR-4, Polish Rosomak or the US Stryker vehicles. In Poland, the capability to act against well-protected armoured vehicles is significantly more important than in case of the armed forces which place the main emphasis on expeditionary operations.

During the operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, the soldiers often used the anti-tank grenade launchers to destroy fortified points or light vehicles. However, in case of a defensive operation, armoured vehicles would constitute a high priority target for such weaponry. Should the acquisition process be carried out, in which a single-use disposable anti-tank grenade launcher is going to be procured, capability of neutralizing contemporary main battle tanks and other armoured vehicles, also fitted with the reactive armour, shall be taken into account, in the relatively largest scope possible to be achieved. The above capabilities are offered by tandem warheads, however other special measures may be used, should they provide the user with a comparable level of effectiveness. The discussed tender had been planned before, however, considering the declared steps taken in order to reinforce the territorial defence capacity by the current government, the scope of the aforementioned procedure may be significantly expanded.

The Armament Inspectorate does not plan to acquire reusable anti tank grenade launchers at the moment. Considering the anti-tank weapon systems saturation level, required to be obtained within the structure of the elements of the Polish Army, including the territorial defence units, acquisition of this type of system shall also be scrutinized, not to replace, but to complement the disposable anti tank weaponry. Taking the potential scale of procurement into account, one should also scrutinize the requirement related to provision of full production and modernization capabilities, within the territory of Poland, regardless of the type of the acquired anti tank weapon system.

The systems that make it possible for the soldier to use them multiple times are heavier, however, the cost of firing a single “shot” is lower – this is very important within the scope of the plan, the purpose of which would be to introduce these weapons in mass quantities, also in the reserve forces. These weapons may also have better properties, when it comes to their armour penetration capabilities. Moreover, a single grenade launcher makes it possible to use a variety of warheads, or introduce new types of ammunition, without changing the whole weapon system. Thus, ultimately, the Polish Army, including the territorial defence forces, shall be in possessions of both types of the anti-tank weaponry.