Armed Forces

Polish Army to purchase Tank Destroyers. 13 potential contractors

New tank destroyers are to be capable of neutralizing even the heaviest armour. Image Credit:
New tank destroyers are to be capable of neutralizing even the heaviest armour. Image Credit:

Polish Ministry of Defence is going to acquire new tank destroyers based on tracked platforms, in order to reinforce the Polish anti-armour capabilities. Furthermore, the goal of the procedure is to replace the obsolete systems using the 9P133 Malyutka system. The project emerges on the ground of one of the priorities defined within the new Armed Forces Development Programme. 13 potential contractors expressed their will to participate in the technical dialogue procedure, ranging from platform manufacturers, ATGM suppliers with an integrator company capable of fusing an ATGM with an unmanned land vehicle to finish with.

Responding to the questions that we have asked, spokesman for the Armament Inspectorate of the Polish MoD, Cpt. Krzysztof Płatek announced that 13 entities listed below expressed their will to participate in the “Obtaining capabilities to destroy armour and armoured assets by tank destroyers” technical dialogue:

  1. Lockheed Martin Global Inc. – Polish Branch;
  2. PGZ S.A.;
  3. WB Electronics S.A.;
  4. OBRUM Sp. z o.o.;
  5. H. Cegielski – Poznań S.A.;
  6. Rheinmetall Defence Polska Sp. z o.o.;
  7. Wojskowe Zakłady Motoryzacyjne S.A.;
  8. Huta Stalowa Wola S.A.;
  9. MBDA UK Ltd.;
  10. IMI Systems – Elbit Systems Ltd.;
  11. BAE Systems Sweden;
  12. BAE Systems USA Combat Vehicles;
  13. Milrem A.S.

As we can see above, both domestic, as well as foreign entities want to take part in the procedure. PGZ also expressed its willingness to access the dialogue: this concerns three of the Group’s companies dealing with manufacturing or maintaining of tracked combat vehicles (OBRUM, HSW, WZM S.A.). H. Cegielski-Poznań is another state entity that is going to take part in the dialogue - the company has been returning to the defence market since recently. The Polish entities also include the privately owned WB Electronics company.

Polish branch of the Lockheed Martin company is also willing to participate in the procedure. The company in question had been previously offering Hellfire and DAGR ATGMs launched from a variety of platforms. Javelin and heavier JAGM ATGMs (the latter weapon being a derivative of the Hellfire missile) may also be integrated with tracked and wheeled vehicles. Polish Rheinmetall’s branch is another potential bidder. The company in question is a supplier and integrator of a variety of platforms, including the Lynx IFV. This takes integration of the ATGMs into account as well.

MBDA UK is another foreign company willing to be involved in the dialogue. This entity is offering the Brimstone missiles that are being continuously developed. The ATGM in question may be launched from air, land and naval platforms as well. The Estonian Milrem company has also expressed its intention to participate in the procedure. Milrem, together with MBDA, has prepared an offer concerning a land unmanned platform armed with the MBDA MMP missiles. These effectors have already been promoted on the Polish market by the European umbrella company in question - and they could be potentially offered again.

The Israeli IMI Systems company wants to participate in the procedure too. The entity in question is now a part of the Israeli Elbit company. The list ends with two BAE Systems entities, Swedish and American one, both offer fighting vehicles. The companies in question also have a great potential at their disposal,, within the scope of integrating tracked platforms with numerous weapons systems, ATGMs included.

The Polish Ministry of Defence assumes that it would acquire a modern tank destroyer system based on a tracked platform. Noteworthy, the description of the dialogue’s subject suggests that the MoD is thinking about a squadron-level module, meaning that it would concern whole equipment of a unit as such, support and command vehicles as well. Other artillery systems are being procured in a similar manner. Krab sph is a great example here.

The new vehicles are to be armed with technologically advanced ATGMs capable of acting against heavy armour, including modern main battle tanks fitted with active soft-kill and hard-kill protection systems. The latter are used to act against ATGMs with countermeasures that destroy the incoming missiles in flight.

Most probably, the new equipment would be included in the inventory of the resuscitated 14th Anti-Armour Artillery Regiment based in Suwałki, as stipulated within the new Armed Forces Development Programme. Currently, the 14th Squadron that is to be used to create the regiment has only the obsolete BRDM-2-based 9P133 Malyutka platforms that are obsolete now. It would be a logical step to provide this unit with new equipment.

The tank-destroyer programme is one of the projects aimed at reinforcing the Polish anti-tank defence capabilities. At the moment the Malyutka missile is the most common of the anti-tank effectors used by the Polish military. Alongside those missiles, 250 portable Spike-LR launchers are available. Efforts are being made, aimed at integrating the Rosomak APC with the aforesaid system. The newly introduced Rosomak vehicles are to be fitted with HSW/WB Electronics ZSSW-30 unmanned turret systems. The very same turret is expected to be integrated with the prospective HSW Borsuk IFVs.

It was also planned to integrate the Spike missiles with the existing Hitfist-30P turrets that are already in service, however the procedure within that scope has been cancelled, as PGZ did not submit a relevant offer in late 2018. In the early March the Polish Ministry’s of Defence press division told us that the Ministry is “actively analyzing the options within the scope of integrating or acquiring a readymade integrated turret system for the Rosomak APC”.

The Technical Modernization Plan [PMT] document also envisages acquisition of a light Pustelnik [Loner] anti tank system that is to be carried by individual soldiers also being easy to use. This type of weapon would be used primarily by the Territorial Defence component.

Undoubtedly, the anti-armour capabilities are one of the weak points of the Polish military and thus they shall be treated as one of the priorities. This has already been reflected in the development programmes adopted by the MoD. The domain had also been previously highlighted in the Strategic Defence Review document. However, none of those provisions have been so far translated into acquisition agreements concerning the new ATGMs. Spike missiles are still being delivered, in line with the contract signed in late 2015. The military still only has the portable variant of launcher in its inventory. Thus, the only option available to enhance the potential within that scope, to a satisfactory degree, is to implement all of the aforesaid programmes at once, tank destroyers programme included. This is a major challenge, money- and organisation-wise. However, no other option exists here. Let us recall the fact that the Polish military has no modern mobile ATGM platforms at its disposal. This should be a subject to change, especially in the light of the fact that the potential adversary is dynamically developing and upgrading its armoured vehicles.