Polish-Iraqi Talks at PGZ. “Modernization of the T-72 Main Battle Tank, IFVs and Procurement”

15 listopada 2017, 12:06
Image Credit: Polska Grupa Zbrojeniowa
Image Credit: Polska Grupa Zbrojeniowa
Image Credit: Polska Grupa Zbrojeniowa

Iraqi authorities and industrial delegates, visiting Warsaw, have met the PGZ management board to discuss the chances for collaboration within the scope of the planned recovery of the military strength of the Republic of Iraq. Among the priority areas for the potential Polish involvement, repairs and overhauls of the main battle tanks and infantry fighting vehicles were mentioned. It was also stressed that there is an emerging interest in procurement of the new individual equipment for the soldiers, along with automatic weapons.

The talks that took place on 7th November this year at the PGZ’s seat concerned the detailed definition of the Iraqi Armed Forces’ requirements and areas within which bilateral cooperation could be potentially established in the future. Iraq was represented by the Minister of Industry and Minerals, Adel Kareem Kak Ahmed and by dr Mudher Sadiq Al-Timemie, General Manager of the State Military Industries Company. PGZ was represented during the meeting by the President of the Management Board, Błażej Wojnicz, and member of the board, Maciej Lew-Mirski.

The currently ongoing Iraqi-Polish negotiation is embedded within a longer series of bilateral meetings, related to the need recently signalled in Iraq, to carry out a complex modernization, revitalization and reequipping of the Iraqi armed forces. As confirmed by the PGZ representatives, similar meetings were taking place this year as a part of the MSPO International Defence Industry Exhibition held in Kielce, and during the October visit of the PGZ management to Baghdad.

Presenting the conclusions of the talks that had taken place so far, the management board of the PGZ noted that increased involvement is evident on the Iraqi side, as Baghdad expressed its will to work together with the Polish industry. Our offer is sparking significant interest, which is satisfying, also because we are driven to establish long-term collaboration that would make it possible to develop the expertise and technological culture, which could be translated into building our reputation in that region - as Maciej Lew-Mirski, member of the PGZ Group’s management board, admitted. This is reflected in the high hopes of the Polish defence sector, regarding the potential Iraqi orders.

We are speaking of an option to overhaul and modernize the T-72 Main Battle Tanks, not only the ones from Bumar, and the BMP-1 IFVs. We are also offering a number of other products and solutions contained within the PGZ Group’s portfolio, mainly when it comes to the infantry inventory kit: automatic weapons, uniforms, communication systems and optoelectronics.

Member of the board of the Polish Armaments Group, Maciej Lew-Mirski.

PGZ hopes that the Iraqis would be interested in procuring the individual equipment of the soldiers, including observation systems, targeting systems, machine guns, sights, and ammunition, as well as artillery assets and mortars. The further talks may also concern UAV systems and widely understood border protection solutions featuring electrooptical and radar reconnaissance instruments, as well as a variety of patrol vehicles and solutions designed for the purpose of monitoring the land and maritime infrastructure.

Iraq, that throughout the recent decades has been a theatre for numerous conflicts, is still saturated with mines and IEDs. There is, hence, a great requirement to acquire means for detection and neutralization of explosives that pose a threat to the civilians.

Iraq, for long periods of time, was procuring equipment from the former Eastern Bloc, both within the framework of military assistance, but also as a result of urgent operational requirements to procure second-hand equipment. Thus, the issue related to overhauls and modernization, is one of the key topics that are interesting for the Polish Armaments Group. We were also talking today, about projects related to recovery of the Baghdad’s manufacturing and overhauling potential. Iraq is wanting, due to the situation in the region, to obtain the highest possible level of autonomy within that domain.

Błażej Wojnicz, President of the Management Board at the PGZ Group

Considering the potential export opportunities for the PGZ Group, Iraq is a prosperous arms market. During the year 2016, the defence budget of Iraq was as high as USD 18.1 billion. Defence expenditure is shaped at the level of 11.6% of GDP. Lower amounts allocated to defence was related to diminished price of the crude oil on the global markets. Despite the above, Iraq still has funds at its disposal that would let it acquire and modernize the military equipment, which regularly is the case for the Baghdad authorities. The armed operations going on in a continuous manner even now, with regards to the activities of the so called IS, force Baghdad to continuously modernize and overhaul the owned inventory, and to procure new systems for the Iraqi Armed Forces and for the paramilitary groups. The US-delivered equipment, as well as pieces of hardware manufactured in the former Soviet Union, currently form the core of the inventory utilized by the Iraqi military.

The Polish Armed Forces remain actively involved in the process, the goal of which would be to help Iraq in recovering its military potential. According to the arrangements made in May this year, during a meeting attended by the NATO PMs in Brussels, Poland became the lead nation within the scope of the initiative aimed at provision of assistance to Baghdad in recovering the ability to maintain and overhaul the post-Soviet equipment in the Iraqi Army.

Polish-Iraqi defence industry collaboration has a rich heritage accumulated in a form of numerous past initiatives. Poland had been delivering T-55 and T-72 main battle tanks and WZT-2 ARV platforms for the Iraqi customer. The Polish shipyards, in the past, had been delivering the Type 773 vessels to Iraq. Recently the Polish industry exported firearms for the Iraqi Armed Forces, here we are referring primarily to the Tantal rifles and PM-98 Glauberyt submachine guns.

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