Poland upgrading Leopard Tanks in response to new Russian Armata Tanks

Poland has signed a PLN2.415 billion (USD605.7 million) contract to upgrade its 128 Leopard 2A4 main battle tanks (MBTs) to a new standard called Leopard 2PL.

Poland bought 128 Leopard 2A4s from ex-Germany Army stocks in January 2002. They are currently operated by the 10th Armored Cavalry Brigade, based in Swietoszow. All 128 2A4s will be upgraded by 2020, while the option exists for the upgrade of an extra 14 Leopard 2A4s that were purchased by Poland in 2013 to equip the 34th Armored Cavalry Brigade, in Zagan.

The contract includes upgrades to the MBTs’ turret, chassis, and other equipment to F6 level (with co-operation from subcontractor WZM Poznan), and the modernization of Poland’s tank training simulators.

The upgrade will include a modernisation of the MBTs’ turret armor to a level at least that of the Leopard 2A5 variant, while not exceeding a total weight of 60 tons for the Leopard 2PL. This will include a partial change of the MBT’s turret armor plates, and the addition of extra armour developed by IBD. Spall liners will also be added in the crew compartment of the turret, while internal storage and stowage capabilities will be extended.

The upgrade will see the tanks retain their existing L44 120 mm gun (rather than be upgraded with the longer L55 gun), although it and its fire control system will be upgraded for compatibility with the newest DM11 and DM63-type armor-piercing ammunition. A more substantial upgrade will come in the form of new commander and gunner sights incorporating the Polish PCO KLW-1 thermal imager, while the gun and turret stabilizer systems will be changed from hydraulic to electric.

Concept image of the Leopard 2PL MBT upgrade package for the Polish Land Forces’ Leopard 2A4 MBTs. Source: ZM Bumar-Labedy

Poland is the most worried that they could be next after Russia’s attack on Ukraine.

By 2020, Russia has plans to produce 2,300 T-14 Armata models to replace the older T-72 and T-90 main battle tanks. The per unit cost of the T-14 is estimated to be around $8 million.

Production tests of the T-14 main battle tank–based upon the new “Armata” universal chassis system–will be completed in 2016.

SOURCES – Janes, Pew Research, The Diplomat