Land Forces

Bridge-Layers for the Polish Leopard Tanks – Acquisition Delayed. MoD: “Contractor facing technical difficulties”

Image Credit: Judyta Młynarczyk - 2 bsap
Image Credit: Judyta Młynarczyk - 2 bsap

The Armament Inspectorate has announced that deliveries of the MS-20 Daglezja bridge-layers, with the bridges tailored to carry the load of the Leopard 2PL and Leopard 2A5 main battle tanks, is going to be delayed. Meanwhile, the procedure, the goal of which is to procure the Bergepanzer 2 ARVs is still in its infancy.

As we were informed by Col. Sławomir Lewandowski, Chief Specialist at the Armament Inspectorate, MS-20 Daglezja bridge-layers, the procurement of which was covered by an agreement concluded back in 2015, have not yet been delivered. Originally it was assumed that the Army would receive the aforesaid hardware by November 2016.

Col. Lewandowski noted that the bridge-laying platforms in question have not yet been delivered due to the “technical difficulties associated with the contractor”. Lewandowski stressed that the procurement process is expected to be finalized by the end of June 2017. OBRUM Gliwice and ZM Bumar-Łabędy form a consortium which is to act as the contractor, within the scope of the agreement covering the procurement of ten bridge-layers on wheeled platforms. The aforesaid bridge is based on the Jelcz C662D.43-M heavy duty vehicles.

Polish defence industry is also working on a bridge-laying system based on a modified tracked chassis, derived from the T-72 main battle tank with added extra pair of wheels. Within the framework of an implementation agreement, two MG-20 Daglezja-G platforms were to be created until October this year. According to Col. Lewandowski, “the Ordering Party assesses that the implementation work would be performed on time”.

Procurement of the Daglezja bridge-laying vehicles became a burning issue, following the acquisition of a number of Leopard 2A5 tanks, and a decision to upgrade the Leopard 2A4 vehicles up to PL standard. The weight increase related to that means that Biber-type armoured bridge-layers would not be sufficient any more. The said solution has been received by the Polish Army in a small quantity, following the first batch of the Leopard 2A4 vehicles.

At the moment, the Polish Army has two MS-20 Daglezja wheeled bridge-laying platforms at its disposal, and solely these vehicles are capable of providing support to the Leopard 2A5/PL main battle tanks. They may be used to support river-crossing operations for MLC 70 class tracked vehicles (mass of up to 63.5 tonnes), and MLC110 class wheeled platforms. Bridge’s span is 20 meters.

To some extent, the German Army faces a similar challenge, since even though the Leguan assault bridges were being offered (this type of bridge is being used by the export operators of the Leopard tanks, including Finland, Turkey, Norway, Sweden or Switzerland) for a long time, no relevant procurement decisions have been made, as Biber bridge-laying platforms were considered to be satisfactory. It was as late as in 2016, when a contract concerning the first seven platforms was signed. The Royal Dutch Army, on the other hand, uses the Leguan bridges based on wheeled platforms, recently a contract has been signed, the goal of which was to procure the tracked solution.

Upgraded Bergepanzer 2 ARVs are also going to provide more support for the Leopard 2A5/PL main battle tanks in Poland. So far, the relevant tendering procedure has only entered the preparatory phase, which means that the potential contractor is not ready just yet. However, we know that a relevant offer has been prepared within that scope by the WZM (Military Automotive Works) facility based in Poznan, in collaboration with the FFG company.

Col. Lewandowski, at the same time, added that “the Armament Inspectorate is not involved in any initiative, the goal of which would be to acquire new or used Bergepanzer 3 ARV platforms”. The latter vehicle is being manufactured by the Rheinmetall company, and it is based on the Leopard 2 main battle tank. Bergepanzer 3 has already been showcased in Poland, during the MSPO 2016 Kielce defence exhibition.