There is a chance that Polish T-72 MBT units would be receiving modern ammunition soon. Five entities submitted requests to take part in the technical dialogue conducted by the Armament Inspectorate, concerning sabot rounds for the Polish T-72 and PT-91 MBTs.
The Armament Inspectorate is currently analyzing the options, within the scope of preparing a procedure aimed at ordering of new APFSDS-T ammunition for the T-72 and PT-91 MBTs. Responding to our inquiry, the spokesman for the Armament Inspectorate, Major Krzysztof Płatek, stated that five entities in total have submitted dialogue inclusion requests:
The PGZ’s Mesko S.A. company is specializing in the manufacturing of ammunition. Mesko has recently delivered a major batch of 120 mm APFSDS rounds for the Leopard 2A4/2A5 main battle tanks. Several years ago, working with an Israeli partner, Mesko has also developed 125 mm rounds for T-72/PT-91. A small quantity of this ammunition has been received by the Polish military. Following the finalization of deliveries, work was continued perfecting of the 125 mm rounds offer. The cooperation now involved the Military Institute of Armament Technology as well.
The new 125 mm rounds are continuously developed by Meso then. So-called Project 400 is conducted in parallel. It is an investment initiative with a relevant involvement of the Treasury, providing financing of PLN 400 million. The goal of the project is to increase the manufacturing capacity concerning this type of ammo.
Apart from Mesko, the procedure also involves the Polish Works 11 entity that has owned the ZPS Niewiadów facility since 2019. There, 125 mm rounds could be potentially manufactured. Elbit Systems that has taken over the IMI Systems company in Israel now also has a range of 125 mm rounds in its offer. The dialogue also involves two Polish arms dealers: Polit-Elektronik Sp. z o.o. and Metalexport Sp. z o.o. (representing the Bulgarian VMZ entity in Poland for instance).
The goal of the technical dialogue is to prepare the procurement of new ammunition that would then be assigned to the modernized T-72 MBTs as well as to the PT-91 platform. Nowadays most of the ammunition for those platform dates back to the 1980s. There is an exception, applicable to a small batch acquired a few years ago. However, most of the inventory available does not meet the requirements of the contemporary battlespace.
Acquisition of new ammunition is thus indispensable to maintain the combat capabilities of the PT-91 and T-72 platforms that would still form the core of the Polish Armoured and Mechanized elements. The Polish military has around 230 PT-91 MBTs at its disposal. The number of T-72 MBTs, once they are reintroduced, may ultimately be higher than 300. The Armament Inspectorate is also seeking training and inert rounds as well. They need to meet safety requirements and be compatible with contemporary systems.
Considering the supply security and the economic aspects, it seems reasonable to place an ammunition order (with ammo destined for the T-72/PT-91 platforms) at the Polish businesses dealing with manufacturing of ammunition. In the current circumstances, the money would stay in the Polish economy, also forming a foundation for creating a proper know-how potential.