Polish Army to Purchase Tank Destroyers: 13 Potential Contractors
(Source: Defence24 Poland; English version posted April 24, 2019)
By Jakub Palowski
The Polish Ministry of Defence is going to acquire new tank destroyers based on tracked platforms, in order to reinforce the Polish anti-armour capabilities. Furthermore, the goal of the procedure is to replace the obsolete systems using the 9P133 Malyutka system.

The project is one of the priorities defined within the new Armed Forces Development Programme. Thirteen potential contractors expressed their willingness to participate in the technical dialogue procedure, ranging from platform manufacturers, ATGM suppliers with an integrator company capable of integrating an ATGM with an unmanned land vehicle to finish with.

Responding to our questions, a spokesman for the Armament Inspectorate of the Polish MoD, Cpt. Krzysztof Płatek, announced that the 13 entities listed below expressed their willingness to participate in the technical dialogue for “Obtaining capabilities to destroy armour and armoured assets by tank destroyers:”

-- Lockheed Martin Global Inc. – Polish Branch;
-- PGZ S.A.;
-- WB Electronics S.A.;
-- OBRUM Sp. z o.o.;
-- H. Cegielski – Poznań S.A.;
-- Rheinmetall Defence Polska Sp. z o.o.;
-- Wojskowe Zakłady Motoryzacyjne S.A.;
-- Huta Stalowa Wola S.A.;
-- MBDA UK Ltd.;
-- IMI Systems – Elbit Systems Ltd.;
-- BAE Systems Sweden;
-- BAE Systems USA Combat Vehicles;
-- Milrem A.S.

Both domestic and foreign entities want to take part in the procedure. PGZ also expressed its willingness to access the dialogue: this concerns three of the Group’s companies dealing with manufacturing or maintaining of tracked combat vehicles (OBRUM, HSW, WZM S.A.). H. Cegielski-Poznań is another state entity that is going to take part in the dialogue - the company has been recently returning to the defence market. The Polish entities also include the privately-owned WB Electronics company.

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The Polish Ministry of Defence assumes that it would acquire a modern tank destroyer system based on a tracked platform. Noteworthy, the description of the dialogue’s subject suggests that the MoD is thinking about a squadron-level module, meaning that it would concern whole equipment of a unit as such, support and command vehicles as well. Other artillery systems are being procured in a similar manner. Krab sph is a great example here.

The new vehicles are to be armed with technologically advanced ATGMs capable of acting against heavy armour, including modern main battle tanks fitted with active soft-kill and hard-kill protection systems. The latter are used to act against ATGMs with countermeasures that destroy the incoming missiles in flight.

Most probably, the new equipment would be included in the inventory of the resuscitated 14th Anti-Armour Artillery Regiment based in Suwałki, as stipulated within the new Armed Forces Development Programme. Currently, the 14th Squadron that is to be used to create the regiment has only the obsolete BRDM-2-based 9P133 Malyutka platforms. It would be a logical step to provide this unit with new equipment.

The tank-destroyer programme is one of the projects aimed at reinforcing Polish anti-tank defence capabilities. At the moment the Malyutka missile is the most common of the anti-tank weapons used by the Polish military. Alongside those missiles, 250 portable Spike-LR launchers are available, and efforts are being made to integrate them onto the Rosomak APCs. Newly-introduced Rosomak vehicles are to be fitted with HSW/WB Electronics ZSSW-30 unmanned turret systems. The very same turret is expected to be integrated with the prospective HSW Borsuk IFVs.

It was also planned to integrate the Spike missiles with the existing Hitfist-30P turrets that are already in service, however the procedure within that scope has been cancelled, as PGZ did not submit a relevant offer in late 2018. In the early March the Polish Ministry of Defence’s press division told us that the Ministry is “actively analyzing the options within the scope of integrating or acquiring a readymade integrated turret system for the Rosomak APC”.

The Technical Modernization Plan [PMT] document also envisages acquisition of a light Pustelnik [Loner] anti-tank system that is to be carried by individual soldiers also being easy to use. This type of weapon would be used primarily by the Territorial Defence component.

Undoubtedly, the anti-armour capabilities are one of the weak points of the Polish military and thus they shall be treated as one of the priorities. This has already been reflected in the development programmes adopted by the MoD. The domain had also been previously highlighted in the Strategic Defence Review document. However, none of those provisions have been so far translated into acquisition agreements concerning the new ATGMs. Spike missiles are still being delivered, in line with the contract signed in late 2015. The military still only has the portable variant of launcher in its inventory.

Thus, the only option available to enhance the potential within that scope, to a satisfactory degree, is to implement all of the aforesaid programmes at once, tank destroyers programme included. This is a major challenge, money- and organisation-wise. However, no other option exists here, as the Polish military has no modern mobile ATGM platforms.

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