Poland’s Bumar: A Major Sale to India?
In the wake of the Soviet Union’s collapse, the Warsaw Pact defense industries that had supported its mailitary machine were faced with painful restructuring. Poverty and poor national infrastructure left governments with other priorities, even as Russia’s own implosion removed any sense of threat from that quarter. The state-controlled arms company Bumar s.o.o. began in 2002 with the fusion of 8 defense plants, and within a year 3 more plants joined the group; a 2004 interview with Chairman Roman Baczynski predicted a total of 16 plants, with a common logistics and supply system underneath and further restructuring and streamlining to follow. The firm’s specialties include vehicles, guns, and air defense systems. The Polish PT-91, an upgraded T-72M1 tank, is their premier platform.
In late February 2008, Bumar announced it was poised to sign a EUR 809 million (about $1.2 billion) multi-contract deal to supply military equipment to India. Proposed contracts to India need to be greeted with skepticism, because they are often held up for long periods of time, or disappear altogether. Nevertheless, it’s clear that some discussions are in progress regarding…
According to the Polish newspaper Dziennik, Bumar has clinched 6 separate contracts with India, covering:
200 WZT-3 “armoured cars.” This is kind of like calling a bulldozer a shovel. WZT-3s are PT-91 tanks with the turret removed, and replaced by a crane and optional bulldozer blade. They are used to tow tanks or other vehicles that are stuck, broken-down, or damaged, and can perform some repairs and even operations like an engine swap in the field. Engine performance and reliability have been long-standing problems with Soviet/Russian tanks, which makes the WZT-3 especially helpful; the bulldozer blade lets them perform light combat engineering as well.
100 PZA LOARA mobile anti-aircraft units, which carry a radar and optically guided pair of 35mm guns mounted on a PT-91 tank chassis. They reportedly have some anti-artillery/ anti-rocket capabilities, and can also be used as excellent sources of overwatch and suppressive ground fire in a pinch.
110 “self-propelled cannons”. Probably the 2S1 “Gozdzik”, which mounts a 122mm cannon on an Opal-II tracked armored personnel carrier. Many of India’s existing artillery guns are Russian, which makes a 122mm caliber self-propelled option attractive. The Opal-II is derived from the fine Russian MT-LB, with a reworked nose section, hydrojets for improved amphibious operation, a new machine gun turret, a 300 hp/ 220 kW SW680T/ YaMZ-238N engine, and a longer chassis with 7 road wheels on each side.
80 Kroton “de-mining vehicles.” Krotons are actually heavily upgraded, mine-laying variants of the Opal-II tracked APC, with some engineering capabilities. If frontal attachments were fitted, de-mining might be a possible role, but crew protection would be a concern given its low, flat bottom.
Dziennik also reported that Bumar is to supply 1,000 tank engines, and help upgrade the same number of T-72 tanks which are currently used by the Indian army. The T-72’s original engines have been the subject of complaints, and P-91 tanks are equipped with a turbocharged 850 hp diesel engine as part of an upgrade set that includes explosive reactive armor, improved optronics, and other modifications.
Rumors have production of many of these tank engines taking place in in India, which has some credibility given India’s industrial offset policy and long experience with poor turnaround times for spares from Russia. Hopefully, this will result in a better experience than the efforts to build engines locally for India’s T-72M1 ‘Ajeya’ tanks.
Contracts & Events
Feb 25/08: Bumar spokesperson Kamila Walczak says that “We are expecting to sign contracts worth around $1.2 billion,” with India, but declines to elaborate further. Press Trust of India | in KeralaNext