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Land Forces

Polish Army Takes Delivery of Leopard 2PL Main Battle Tanks

Leopard 2PL
Photo. Piotr Miedziński/Defence24.pl

ZM Bumar-Łabędy announced that the remaining 4 Leopard 2PLM1 main battle tanks mentioned by the company in its yearly summary were handed off to the Polish Army in late December.

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The delivery therefore translates into 18 upgraded Leopard 2PLM1 main battle tanks being delivered to the user. The company mentions that fact in its annual summary. Currently, the Polish Army operates 62 Leopard 2 PL/PLM1 MBTs, out of 142 examples on order. The final number will probably be lower, as 14 MBTs were transferred to Ukraine. However, no relevant annex to the agreement was signed in that area. This may suggest that, potentially, extra MBTs could be procured. The Leopard 2A4 upgrade is a result of an agreement signed back in December 2015, by and between a consortium formed by the PGZ Group, ZM „Bumar-Łabędy” S.A., and the Armament Inspectorate of the Polish Ministry of Defence. The baseline value of that contract is defined as PLN 2.4 bn. The upgrade program in question also involves other Polish defence industry companies, while Rheinmetall is acting in the capacity of the foreign partner.

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As a result of the conclusion of an annex to the aforesaid agreement, worth PLN 300 million, back in July 2018, the works undertaken are to involve another 14 MBTs. This means that all 142 Leopard 2A4 MBTs operated by the Polish Army would be modernized. The contract also includes extra functionalities for the variant designated as Leopard 2PLM1. Ultimately all main battle tanks would receive the 2PLM1 upgrade. The deliveries of the modified Leopard 2PL MBTs have been delayed, multiple times. This is one of the reasons for annexation of the agreement that so far, happened five times. The last annex, dating back to December 2019, covering the resulting overhauls, increases the total value of the deal to PLN 3.29 bn.

Photo. Zakłady Mechaniczne Bumar Łabędy

The Leopard 2PL upgrade includes extra modular armour for the turret and new sights (including KLW-1 Asteria thermal imaging systems for the gunner, and for the commander). The gun and the fire control system have been modified to accommodate modern ammunition - the DM63A1 anti-tank rounds, and the DM11 programmable HE rounds. Electric motors for the turret and the gun have also been integrated, replacing the old hydraulic solution. This entailed the necessity to implement an APU and redesign the electrical system within the tank. Ultimately, the communication systems of the said MBTs would also be modified.

The 2PLM1 variant has been modified, in comparison to the bare 2PL version, within the following scope:

  • Introduction of extra “PIX” functionality allowing for automatic setting of the PERI R17 commander’s sight to 6 or 12 o’clock, in relation to the vehicle axis, regardless of the turret position;
  • Introduction of “FIRST/LAST” echo function for the gunner, allowing the gunner to fire the gun if the rangefinder output is inconsistent;
  • Introduction of an extra external battery charging port on the rear armour plate;
  • Introduction of “COLD START” function making it possible to emergency start the vehicle in combat, without the voltage drop for the turret system which prevents them from rebooting;
  • Introduction of active cooling solution for the EWNA aiming and stabilizer system electronics;
  • Getting the vehicle ready for setting up the “THERMAL BEACON” blue force ID system.
Photo. ppor. Jacek Piotrowski
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