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Polish Armed Forces Receive Three Pontoon Bridge Offers

Image: Patryk Cieliński/Combat Camera Poland
Image: Patryk Cieliński/Combat Camera Poland

Three bidders have submitted their proposals in the tendering procedure that has been launched by the Armament Inspectorate, to procure pontoon bridge sets. Is this attempt to find a replacement for the Wstęga system going to be successful?

Responding to inquiries made by, spokesman for the Armament Inspectorate, Krzysztof Płatek, stated that “within the term set, namely, until 17th April 2020, 3 bidders submitted their requests to participate in the tendering procedure:

  1. Constructions Industrielles de la Méditerranée – CNIM Systémes Industriels.
  2. Consortium formed by: H. Cegielski-Poznań S.A., CEFA SAS and Polska Grupa Zbrojeniowa S.A. [Polish Armament Group]
  3. Griffin Group S.A. Defence Sp.k.

We shall recall that the current tender, that has been going since January this year, is aimed at selecting the replacement of the obsolete PP-64 Wstęga system. This is yet another approach to that matter, following the cancellation of the procurement procedure in August last year (the Daglezja-P programme).

What’s interesting, the three bidders that have made submissions this year are similar to the group that submitted their requests in February 2019. A change has occurred, however, in case of the HCP/CEFA consortium that currently involves the PGZ Group instead of WB Electronics.

With a high degree of certainty, one may assume that the bidders offer solutions similar to the ones offered previously:

  • CNIM: Upgraded Motorized Floating Bridge,
  • HCP/PGZ/CEFA: Steel SRB pontoon bridge and Vedette F2 system provided by CETA,
  • Griffin Group Defence: M3/IRB (Improved Ribbon Bridge) family by General Dynamics Land Systems.

In the case of the present procurement, the Ordering Party is willing to acquire pontoon bridge inventory kits that would make it possible to create bridges and ferries, allowing the user to cross water obstacles when using tracked and wheeled platforms. MLC 70 is the minimum capacity requirement for the tracked platforms and MLC 96 is applicable in case of the wheeled vehicles (including main battle tank-carrying heavy-duty vehicles) with maximum water current speed of at least 1.5 meters per second with a water depth of no more than 2.0 meters.

This is to make it possible to create and maintain bridge and ferry crossings in case of water obstacles with a minimum depth of no less than 1 meter and with a current speed of 1.5 meters per second. A single set of pontoon bridge system should make it possible to cross an obstacle that would be at least 100 meters wide or to create two MLC 70/96 capacity ferries. These requirements are somewhat equivalent to the ones defined for the Daglezja-P tender. This is not a surprise, considering the reasons as to why the past procedure has been canceled - the limited financing.

The number of bridge sets and the military units expected to receive those would be contained within the Terms of Reference (ITT/RFP). This document would be transferred to the bidders who are going to be invited to submit their offers.

The full pontoon bridge set shall contain at least the following elements:

  • Vehicles making it possible to transport the bridge and personnel, defined in line with the specification of the bridge system issued by the manufacturer;
  • Pontoon sections;
  • Ramps/bank blocks;
  • Boats/propulsion means;
  • Equipment required to create and maintain the crossing;
  • Tools and hardware required to maintain, repair and adjust the bridges;
  • Indispensable equipment, when it comes to moving around public roads, via railway and maritime transport;
  • Documentation required within the scope of operational use, maintenance and repairs;
  • System facilitating diagnostics, allowing for rapid detection of malfunctions and definition of the scope of the required repairs;
  • Maintenance kit (ZO).

Furthermore, alongside the aforesaid list specified for a single bridge set, the delivery shall also include spare parts sets (ZCzZ) and repair kits (ZN).

The contractor shall also provide the Ordering Party with a relevant training package. The Ordering Party has also set a requirement for the vehicles transporting the bridge system used by the military - they are to be the same as the platforms already operated. This will make it possible to address the need for making the inventory of the vehicles more homogeneous. Relevant modifications that may be required with regards to the carrier platform are also taken into consideration.

Many questions emerged that were submitted the potential bidders, during the procedure. Furthermore, one appeal has been submitted to the National Chamber of Appeals, concerning the announcement (on the ambiguous and imprecise definition of conditions required to be met to participate, within the scope of technical or professional abilities and the associated selection criteria). Alongside the changes contained in the announcement made as a result of that appeal, clarification was also made concerning the “pontoon” term that does not include systems/bridges used to go over dry obstacles, as well as to the amphibious vehicle platform.