Polish HSW to Manufacture Barrels for the Leopard 2 MBT Guns

Image Credit: HSW
Image Credit: HSW

HSW S.A. has signed a memorandum of understanding with the German Rheinmetall Waffe Munition GmbH company, regarding the licensed manufacturing of the L44 tank gun parts, 120 mm barrels included. Polish Leopard 2A4/2A5/2PL MBTs utilize the aforesaid gun.

The memorandum has been signed on Wednesday, 21st July, by the President at HSW, Bartłomiej Zając, and President at Rheinmetall Waffe Munition GmbH, Roman Koehne. The agreement concerns the manufacturing of some parts of the L44 gun, including the 120 mm barrels. The license has been granted for 20 years. Not only does the license cover the manufacturing of barrels for the Leopard 2 MBTs operated by the Polish military, as it also envisages a scenario in which HSW S.A. becomes a part of the Rheinmetall’s supply chain.

HSW S.A. currently remains in possession of know-how, allowing the facility to manufacture barrels in calibre range between 30 and 155 mm. The barrels may be up to 9 meters long. The company has been manufacturing 120 mm mortar barrels (Rak), and 155 mm mortar barrels for years now, along with a selection of barrels for towed mortars.

The memorandum involving Rheinmetall shall be viewed as an important step in the development of the HSW’s capacity. For several years, no MBT gun barrels were being made in Poland. Back in the Warsaw-pact era, barrels for the license manufactured T-55 MBTs were indeed made at HSW, however, barrels for the T-72M/A/M1, and then for the PT-91, were being imported from Slovakia. However, now, thanks to the prior investments made to modernize the barrel manufacturing department, HSW would attain the manufacturing potential required to manufacture modern MBT gun barrels.

The agreement signed is a B2B contract. The preparations before the contract have been going on at least since 2019, when a relevant letter of intent has been signed, concerning the matter. The current agreement constitutes a tangible means to make the above assumptions real. Thus, we may be able to witness an increase in the involvement of the Polish industry in the support scheme related to the Polish Leopard 2 MBTs.

HSW is emphasizing the fact that cooperation with Rheinmetall has been launched in 2012, and it has been going on since then, mainly when it comes to the manufacturing of barrels for the Krab howitzer. The license agreement covering the manufacturing of MBT barrels is another stage of cooperation that would be fruitful and beneficial, not only to the parties to the contract but also to the Polish Armed Forces. It would secure the basic national security interest, when it comes to the elements of the MBT guns, through the launch of manufacturing of the L44 MBT gun barrels for the Leopard 2A4/A5/PL main battle tanks.

The company, in recent years, has made investments in developing the manufacturing know-how, within the scope of the barrels. Since 2017 it has been developing and equipping its barrel manufacturing division with modern CNC systems for manufacturing, along with an autofrettage station - dealing with reinforcement of the internal surface of the barrel.  Thanks to the agreement, HSW S.A. would broaden its offer with the Leopard MBT gun barrels. Furthermore, the company has also increased its employment, and trained specialist cadre.

The investment expenditure made by HSW S.A., to establish the barrel manufacturing division, was as high as PLN 34.35 million, to cover the procurement of the hardware, including the amount of PLN 20 million provided by the Treasury, not as public support. In further years, between 2018 and 2020, 16.4 million zlotys of spending was recorded in total. In total, the investment outlays of HSW S.A., made concerning the establishment of the barrel manufacturing capacity, were contained in an amount of PLN 50.7 million. HSW S.A. also spent almost 3 million zlotys on R&D tied to the development of manufacturing processes (and implementation of those), concerning barrels of different calibres.

One of the elements of the development strategy adopted by the PGZ Group is the process of establishing the so-called centers for competency, for the specific product segments within the group. HSW S.A., legitimizing itself with the top national barrel manufacturing potential, is currently broadening this area with an incredibly important component dedicated for the Leopard 2 MBTs family. The memorandum of understanding made today is another step that we are taking to make ourselves the first choice supplier and lifecycle maintainer of military equipment for the Polish Armed Forces.

Sebastian Chwałek, President of the Management Board at PGZ S.A.

The license acquired, concerning the MBT barrels manufacturing allows the HSW S.A. facility to own the full spectrum of artillery barrels manufacturing capacity, and to acquire entirely new expertise and business possibilities when it comes to manufacturing of barrels for MBTs. For our company, this is yet another milestone in establishing specialized, military manufacturing capacity for the Land Forces. MBT barrel manufacturing broadens our activities in armoured projects.

Bartłomiej Zając, President of the Management Board at HSW S.A.

Roman Koehne, President at Rheinmetall Waffe Munition GmbH, said that the agreement signed between HSW and Rheinmetall is another step that the businesses are making on their path towards cooperation. Koehne also expressed his satisfaction with that fact, pointing out that HSW is a professional partner, and that Rheinmetall is ready to further extend the cooperation, to other types of modern MBT weapons systems, should the Polish Ministry of Defence decide to equip the Polish main battle tanks with new 120 or 130 mm guns.