Land Forces

What Main Battle Tanks Will The Polish Army Get in 2022

Leopard 2PL
Photo. 1st "Warszawska" Armored Brigade

Delivery of several types of MBTs for the Polish Armed Forces is planned to happen in 2022. This refers to the continued modification of the T-72M/M1 MBTs (referred to as the T-72M1R upgrade), and the Leopard 2A4 MBT upgrade, to the Leopard 2PL standard. We have managed to obtain information on the current status of deliveries and hand-offs, and on the current plans within that scope.

Both the T-72, as well as the Leopard 2A4 MBTs are operated by some of the Polish Army tank battalions. ZM Bumar-Łabędy S.A. and other PGZ Group companies are currently working on the aforesaid MBTs. Modification of the T-72 MBTs is being completed based on an agreement signed in July 2019, by and between the consortium formed by ZM Bumar-Łabędy and WZM S.A., and the 1st Regional Logistics Base in Wałcz, with a total value of PLN 1.749 bn. Based on the aforesaid agreement, general overhaul and limited modification of the MBTs is to take place. The agreement is a result-based one. The quantity of MBTs involved depends on the value of workload. It was assumed that 230 MBTs would be overhauled and modified, optional modification of another 88 examples has been envisaged.

The first 8 T-72M1R MBTs were delivered back in 2019. Another 28 were commissioned in 2020. According to information provided by PGZ, 39 overhauled and modified MBTs were delivered in 2021 (including 29 overhauled by ZM Bumar-Łabędy and 10 by WZM S.A.). The plans of consortium for 2022 assume that 15 examples belonging to the 2021 lot would be delivered, along with another 35 MBTs planned for delivery this year. The above means that 125 T-72M1R MBTs would remain in active service in total, by the end of this year. The above refers to MBTs that were in service and were selected for overhauls and modifications, as well as vehicles that undergo restoration. The modification of the T-72 MBTs includes integration of new observation systems (including a thermal imaging sight for the gunner) supplied by PCO, communication systems supplied by the WB Group, as well as GPS DAGR receiver and several other enhancements.

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Leopard 2 upgrade, meanwhile, 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 acts as the foreign partner. As a result of the signing 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.

Meanwhile, the deliveries of the modified Leopard 2PL MBTs have been delayed, multiple times. This is one of the reasons for the 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. The first 12 examples of upgraded MBTs were delivered in 2020. Another 13 were commissioned last year, including one example of the latest Leopard 2PLM1 variant.

According to information that PGZ shared with us, another example of this MBT (from the last year's lot) is currently undergoing hand-off procedures. The plans for 2022 assume that 24 examples would be delivered in total, including 23 2PLM1 MBTs. The above means that by the end of the year, 49 Leopard 2PL MBTs would remain in service, including 24 Leopard 2PLM1s. The information that had been released in the past suggests that the agreement, with its annexes, envisages the delivery of 142 MBTs, and it is to be finalized by July 2023. However, most probably the term in question would be extended.

The Leopard 2PL upgrade includes extra modular armor for the turret and new sights (including KLW-1 Asteria thermal imaging systems for the gunner, and 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 has 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.

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M1A2 SEP v3 Abrams is another type of MBT that may potentially be received by the Polish Armed Forces. Procurement of 250 MBTs as such was requested by Poland, via FMS, in July last year. The Polish Ministry of Defence and the General Command were declaring that the first 28 examples could be delivered by the end of this year. To make it possible, it would be necessary to negotiate transaction approval via the State Department, and Congress. The agreement also needs to be negotiated and concluded for this to happen. This short delivery term would probably mean that Poland is to receive some of the vehicles belonging to the US Army production lots.

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The Technical Modernization Plan also includes the Wilk new generation MBT procurement programme, separate from the Abrams acquisition, defined as an urgent operational requirement. The assumption is that the Wilk programme would involve the Polish industry to a great extent.