Poland Starts Procurement of New Armored Recovery Vehicle for Leopard 2 MBTs

Image Credit:  J.Sabak
Image Credit: J.Sabak

The Armament Inspectorate of the Polish MoD (Polish defence procurement body) has just launched a procedure aimed at acquiring the “Kajman” armoured recovery vehicles. The vehicles are to be used for reconnaissance and recovery tasks. They are to be capable of recovering vehicles weighing 63 tonnes and more. This would allow the “Kajman” platform to accompany Leopard 2PL and Leopard 2A5 main battle tanks and 155 mm Krab self-propelled howitzers.

The tender announced on 25th June 2020 pertains to the acquisition of 29 Kajman (Cayman) ARVs, with the option of acquiring another 37 vehicles. The tender participation request submission deadline expires on 30th August 2020.

The Armament Inspectorate will allow no more than 5 entities to participate in the process, in line with the Public Procurement Law. Offer assessment is expected to be determined by the price (90%) and the guarantee period (10%). The delivery deadline has been set on 30th November 2035, right before the Technical Modernization Plan term ends. The Inspectorate may want to secure the acquisition, should no funds be available, making it possible to exercise the right of option, depending on the situation.

Kajman [Cayman] ARV is to be an armoured, tracked platform that would accompany MBTs and other tracked assets as well. The equipment set required includes elements as follows:

  1. Armour that would protect the ARV crew properly;
  2. Daytime/night observation and targeting systems;
  3. Remotely controlled weapons station;
  4. OPBMR System (CRBN protection system);
  5. Contamination detection and air filtering/ventilation system;
  6. AC/Heating system;
  7. APU
  8. Fire-extinguishing and anti-explosion system;
  9. Crane;
  10. Winch: primary and secondary; Combat Recovery System;
  11. Blade;
  12. Diagnostics suite;
  13. 360 Degrees Observation System;
  14. Protection system;
  15. Intercom and external comms suite.

The new ARV is to be able to recover vehicles weighing more than 63 tonnes. This means that it would be tasked with supporting Leopard 2PL and Leopard 2A5 MBTs and the future MBTs of similar weight, as well as the 155 mm Krab howitzers and other tracked platforms.

At the moment the Polish military is operating three types of ARVs. The Kajman platform is to replace the WZT-2 ARV based on the T-55 MBT (forming the bulk of the Polish military’s ARV inventory) and the newer WZT-3 vehicles based on the T-72 MBT. Both types remain unable to effectively support the Leopard 2A5 or equivalent MBTs, as they have been designed to work with the T-72/PT-91 main battle tanks and older vehicles (the case of WZT-2).

Meanwhile, the Bergepanzer 2 vehicles procured by Poland with the first lot of the Leopard 2 MBTs, based on the Leopard 1 MBT, would still be used. Since 2017 a procedure has been going on, aimed at an upgrade of the Bergepanzers. The negotiation concerning that matter is being carried out with the involvement of 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. This year’s budget has some funds allocated to that modernization program.

A technical dialogue on the procurement of new ARVs has been going since 2017 as well. It is aimed at the acquisition of a platform capable of working with heavier vehicles, as Bergepanzer 2 is limited at around 60 tonnes. Introduction of the Krab sph, procurement of a second lot of the Leopard MBTs, and potential requirement to support the allied assets deployed to Poland create an increased demand for a modern ARV. Furthermore, the replacement of the legacy WZT-2 platform is becoming increasingly more urgent. 

Observing the dialogue and the array of vehicles presented during the MSPO Kielce defence industry exhibitions, one may indicate three certain contenders in the WZT Kajman procurement: FFG Wisent 2, BAE Systems M88A2 Hercules and Rheinmetall Bergepanzer 3. The vehicles are usually created as a result of modification of the Leopard 2 platform (Wisent, BPZ-3) or the older vehicles, such as WZT M88A1.

Conversion like that has a price tag of at least 25-30 million zlotys, according to the information available. Considering that the base procurement concerns 29 platforms and that a requirement would also emerge to create a logistics support system and acquire base vehicles for conversion, the cost of the Kajman program could amount to more than PLN 1 billion (approx. USD 250 million), or even PLN 2 billion (approx. USD 500 million), should the right of option be exercised to the fullest possible extent. Thus, the programme is both relevant, as well as the costly element of modernization of the armoured component.