Buy from the Pros: Poland Adds More German Tanks
Germany is almost done selling off one of the world’s most impressive tank fleets, earning itself a solid market around the world in the process, and choking sales of competitive designs. In November 2013, Poland announced that it would buy a 2nd batch of Leopard 2 tanks from Germany, along with assorted other equipment. As usual, the package price was incredibly cheap: just EUR 180 million for 119 more tanks, plus range training fittings, machine guns, radios; and assorted armored tractors, cars, and trucks. Poland’s next question is what to do with the new gear…
Poland’s Leopard Cavalry
Poland’s original set of 128 Leopard 2A4 tanks were bought and transferred in the mid-2000s. They need a full overhaul, and modernization would be an excellent idea. The new Leopards include another 14 2A4s, plus 105 of the more advanced Leopard 2A5s. This will form the high-end core of Poland’s armored brigades, with capabilities and survivability far ahead of its T-72 and PT-91 Twardy (locally designed upgrade beyond T-72M1) tanks.
The Polish Army needs commonality within its Leopard fleet at some point. Meanwhile, Polish industry is unhappy because the new acquisitions will replace the mothballed T-72 fleet with a German design, rather than having the MON fund a new Polish design by 2016. The logical solution is to involve Polish industry in a common upgrade effort that will begin by bringing the existing fleet to a more advanced Leopard 2PL standard, then follow by upgrading the newer Leopard 2A5s to create a common Polish standard.
Rumors have Poland looking for a final configuration that’s similar to Canada’s new Leopard 2A6Ms. That would reshape and strengthen the armor structure to 2A5 levels and beyond, upgrade the sights and communications, beef up the internal climate control to handle hot environments like Afghanistan, add extra mine blast protection underneath, and provide points to fit engineering utilities like dozer blades and mine clearance rollers.
Contracts & Key Events
Sept 2/14: 2PL etc. Poland is backing off of its planned Leopard 2PL upgrade, until the major industry consolidation takes place into PGZ (Polish Armaments Group/ Polska Grupa Zbrojeniowa in Polish). This will allow the MON to allocate this work directly rather than relying on chosen team-ups (q.v. Dec 10/13), but it also takes away a lot of the competitive incentive. What it will not change, is the need to find partner from Germany or Turkey with the requisite know-how. An opportunity for KMW, and for Poland’s GAIN SA? We’ll see.
The initial 2012 planned involved prototype rollout in 2014-2015, with full modernization of Poland’s original Leopard 2A4 fleet taking place out from 2015-2018. Unfortunately, waiting for PGZ will destroy that timeline.
Poland will also need to address the issue of armored vehicles to accompany 34 Brigade’s Leopard 2A5 tanks. 10 Armoured Brigade currently uses M113 tracked APCs and derivative M577 command vehicles alongside its Leopard 2A4s, but Poland doesn’t have uncommitted surplus armored vehicles to stand up the 2nd Leopard tank brigade. There are rumors that Poland is negotiating a transfer of mothballed M113s and M577s from the USA in order to fill this gap. That will bring the issue of a 2nd modernization to the fore, of course, in order to ensure that the new armored vehicles can all work together. Sources: DziennikZbrojny.pl, “Przetarg na modernizacje Leopardow z problemami”.
Dec 10/13: 2PL upgrade. Poland’s MON receives 3 responses to their modernization RFP. The teams are:
- Wojskowe Zaklady Motoryzacyjne S.A., Wojskowymi Zakladami Lacznosci, and Rheinmetall Landsysteme GmbH
- Bumar-Labedy, OBRUM Gliwice, and PHO
- PCO SA and Turkey’s Aselsan Elektronik
Sources: DziennikZbrojny.pl, “Przetarg na modernizacje Leopardow z problemami”.
Nov 23/13: More Leopards. Poland orders their 2nd batch of Leopard 2 tanks from Germany, along with assorted other equipment: range training fittings, machine guns, radios; and assorted armored tractors, cars, and trucks.
As usual, the package price was incredibly cheap: just EUR 180 million for 119 more tanks (14 2A4s + 105 2A5s), plus all of the extras.
119 Leopard 2s
Oct 30/13: 2PL upgrade. Poland releases an RFP for modernization of its existing Leopard tank fleet to the 2PL standard. Upgrades will include modifications including armor improvements, a suspension upgrade, and modernized sighting and fire control. It’s issued per Decision No 118 of the Minister of National Defence, bypassing the Public Procurement Law in the interests of national security. This allows Poland to issue the RFP to domestic firms only, despite EU regulations. The deadline is Dec 10/13. Sources: DziennikZbrojny.pl, “Przetarg na modernizacje Leopardow z problemami”.
DID would like to thank our friends at DziennikZbrojny.pl for their assistance with ongoing developments.
- The Armor Site – Kampfpanzer Leopard 2. The best public information anywhere, all variants.
- Army Technology – PT-91 Twardy Main Battle Tank, Poland.
- DID – Poland’s Balancing Act: A Briefing for the Defense Sector – Part 1. Guest article from Avascent Consulting explains the PGZ consolidation among other issues.
- DziennikZbrojny.pl (Sept 4/14) – Przetarg na modernizacje Leopardow z problemami.
- German Bundesministerium der Verteidigung (Nov 22/13) – Deutschland und Polen unterzeichnen Vertrag zum Kauf von Leopard Kampfpanzern.
- Polish MON (Nov 22/13) – Kolejne Leopardy dla wojsk ladowych.
- Defence24 (Sept 22/13) – Polska kupuje Leopardy. Early report of the deal, numbers are very close but not exact. Also points out Polish industrial grumbles.
- Altair (Sept 6/12) – e-RAPORT MSPO 4/2012 – Ku spolonizowanemu Leopardowi 2PL. Germany’s KMW signed an agreement with Bumar Group re: modernization of Poland’s Leopard 2A4s.