Poland to Procure Over 100 Tank Transporters

Mercedes-Benz Actros 3353AS Image Credit: Maciej Szopa/Defence24
Mercedes-Benz Actros 3353AS Image Credit: Maciej Szopa/Defence24

The Armament Inspectorate of the Polish Ministry of Defence announced that it has launched a tendering procedure concerning semi-trailer-based main battle tank/armour transporters. The process above may concern more than 100 vehicles as such, easily making this the largest undertaking of this type to the date.

The whole procedure refers to 31 trailer/vehicle sets along with a logistics and training package. The procurement may be subjected to further extension - and another 78 sets could also be purchased. Up to 109 vehicle/trailer sets as such could be acquired then, capable of transporting heavy armour. For the sake of comparison, one shall note that the Polish military is currently using a couple of semi-trailer tractors, including fifty-nine Iveco Trakkers (MP720T50WT and MP720T48WT), six Faun SLT 50-2 Elefants (procured alongside the Leopard 2 MBTs), and nine Mercedes-Benz Actros 3353AS vehicles, along with single examples of MAN 40.464 DFAT and VOLVO FL12H.

Furthermore, last year an agreement has been signed with PGZ’s Jelcz S.A. company, concerning 14 armoured transport vehicles, with the right of option envisaging acquisition of another 9 plus three extra tractors, without the trailers. According to the arrangements that had been made in the aforesaid agreement, the deliveries of the Jelcz products are to begin this year and last until 2022.

If the procurement procedure beginning now (with submissions being accepted until 16th June) is successful, and the right of option is exercised, then the number of heavy armour transporters of this class in the Polish military would be doubled. This remains in line with the current NATO doctrine well, as the alliance places a major emphasis on logistics and capability of rapid deployment of forces to the Eastern Flank, from Eastern Europe. And the matter in question has also been the focus of the Defender Europe 2020 exercise.

When it comes to technical requirements, the new transporters shall be able to carry vehicles weighing at least 60 tonnes, meaning that they should be capable of carrying Challenger/Leopard MBTs. The use of variable width platforms has been permitted. New platforms as such are expected to be capable of crossing water obstacles that would not be deeper than 750 mm. Other technical requirements include all-wheel-drive, run-flat tyres, the cabin that can accommodate at least 2 persons with extra points to be awarded for the third seat. Topside rescue hatch could also be seen as an extra advantage.

The pricetag is unknown, and, traditionally, the price constitutes the majority of the offer rating (75 percentage points). Alongside the price, the guarantee term is accounted for as well (15 percentage points). 10 percentage points have been allocated to the extra functional properties (third seat or topside hatch). There is still another matter that needs to be highlighted: last year the Armament Inspectorate concluded the former agreement (price tag of 72.3 million zlotys). Optional acquisition of another 12 tractors and 9 semi-trailers would cost another 54.2 million zlotys. Tender security deposit billable in the case of the bidders has been defined as PLN 1 million. The information above can be extrapolated, and it could be assumed that 150-200 million zlotys would be spent on the primary contract, with option costing up to PLN 400 million.

There is still one more question that remains open: will the money be used to support the domestic industry (Jelcz Sp. z o. o.) according to the current policy that the Polish MoD adopts so that the industry can survive the difficult post-pandemic period? The delivery deadline for further vehicles has been defined as October 2026. One can assume then that the Polish company would finalize the currently contracted deliveries, expand its production line and continue the manufacturing processes over the upcoming 4 years.