New ARVs for the Polish Leopard Tank Units - No Upgrade of the Bergepanzer Platform In Sight

The new ARVs are to replace the legacy platforms, utilizing the post-Soviet T-55 or T-72 as the base unit.
Photo. Mateusz Multarzyński/

According to information that we have received from Lt. Col. Krzysztof Płatek, spokesman for the Armament Agency, the procurement procedure regarding the new Kajman ARVs is at the stage of final bids being submitted by the contractors. The Bergepanzer 2 upgrade programme would probably be canceled, as no agreement has been reached with the bidder.

Let us recall that two bidders submitted their proposals in the negotiation that has been launched in the new generation Kajman ARV procurement - the process has been negotiation based, and it has been going on since June 2020. The first bidder Flensburger Fahrzeugbau Gesellschaft mbH (FFG) has the universal Wisent 2 platform in its offer. It can be reconfigured to become an ARV. The second bid was placed by Rheinmetall Defence Polska Sp. z o.o., jointly with Rheinmetall Landsysteme GmbH (RLS) - here, the Bergepanzer 3 (ARV 3) may be a viable proposal. These vehicles are still being operated by Germany, and by the Netherlands.

The Kajman programme is aimed at procuring 29 brand new ARVs, with optional procurement of another 37 also being on the table. November 2035 has been set as the deadline.

The procurement procedure regarding the KAJMAN ARV, that involves bids placed by Flensburger Fahrzeugbau Gesellschaft mbH (FFG), and Rheinmetall Polska Sp. z o.o. (RDP) jointly with Rheinmetall Landsysteme GmbH (RLS), is currently at the stage at which the bidders are submitting the final bids.

@ Lt. Col. Krzysztof Płatek, Spokesperson for the Armament Agency

The new ARVs would replace the currently operated fleet of such platforms, including the WZT-2 vehicle based on the T-55 (the backbone of the fleet), and maybe WZT-3M, based on the T-72. The ARVs would provide capabilities to support MBTs weighing up to 63 tonnes. This refers, primarily, to the Leopard 2 MBTs (2A5/2PL), and future MBT platforms in this weight class, as well as the 155 mm Krab howitzers, and other tracked platforms. Nowadays, older Bergepanzer 2 vehicles are used in that role. These have been based on the Leopard 1 MBT.

Would the Bergepanzer remain unupgraded?

The BPz-2 platform was to be modernized as a result of a procedure that has been going on since September 2017. We have found out that the negotiation with the contractor did not result in the signing of an agreement that would "sufficiently secure the interest of the Polish Armed Forces".

Since negotiation regarding the modernization of the armored BPz-2 tractor has not resulted in a satisfactory solution, for both parties - especially in the area of costs and possible delivery schedules - there was no possibility to sign an agreement that would sufficiently secure the interest of the Polish Armed Forces.

@ Lt. Col. Krzysztof Płatek, Spokesperson for the Armament Agency

Let us recall that the aforesaid negotiation involved a consortium led by the PGZ Group, also involving the ZM Bumar-Łabędy S.A. and WZM S.A. entities. The platform offered is based on the Polonized Wisent 1 technology.

The fiasco of the negotiation probably means that despite the procurement process lasting 5 years, no successful conclusion of the Bergepanzer 2 modernization contract may be expected. That upgrade is necessary anyway, considering the potential of the Land Forces.

Taking into account the plans made by the Polish MoD when it comes to the quantitative expansion of the Polish Armed Forces, and the procurement of higher numbers of military equipment pieces, such as main battle tanks, or self-propelled howitzers, the acquisition of brand new ARVs, and modernization of the existing fleet shall both constitute a relevant element of the aforesaid plans.

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Bergepanzer-2 ARV upgrade project, offered by the WZM S.A. facility based in Poznan

Even though the acquisition of support vehicles, such as the M88A2 ARV, has been planned alongside the procurement of the M1A2 Abrams SEPv3 MBTs, the support for the 116 legacy Abrams MBTs that would also be received by the Polish Army is also a matter that needs to be discussed. In the case of the K2 MBT, the framework agreement does cover the acquisition of ARVs. The details would be unveiled soon.

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One shall remember that armored recovery vehicles are also needed to support other systems, such as the Krab, or K9 self-propelled gun-howitzers, or other tracked platforms, such as command vehicles or ammunition carriers. The numbers of those are expected to be growing. Currently, WZT-2 and WZT-3 platforms are also being used to provide support for the wheeled Rosomak APCs. Hence the requirements and demand for ARVs would be growing. 28 BPz-2 vehicles operated by the Polish Armed Forces, with no upgrade in sight, are about to approach the limits of their capacity, and the end of their lifecycles. Can the Polish Army afford to lose those assets?