128 Leopard 2PL

According to Remigiusz Wilk, Jane’s Defence Weekly correspondent in Warsaw, Poland has signed a PLN2.415 billion ($605.7 million) contract to upgrade its 128 Leopard 2A4 Main Battle Tanks (MBTs) to a new standard called Leopard 2PL. The contract was awarded to prime contractor Polska Grupa Zbrojeniowa (PGZ) and integrator ZM Bumar-Labedy by the Polish Armament Inspectorate on 28 December, 2015. Rheinmetall Landsyteme will work with PGZ as strategic partner on the programme.

Concept image of the Leopard 2PL MBT (Leopard 2A5 variant) upgrade package for the Polish Land Forces' Leopard 2A4 MBTs (Source: ZM Bumar-Labedy)
Concept image of the Leopard 2PL MBT (Leopard 2A5 variant) upgrade package for the Polish Land Forces’ Leopard 2A4 MBTs (Source: ZM Bumar-Labedy)

Poland bought 128 Leopard 2A4s from ex-Germany Army stocks in January 2002. They are currently operated by the 10th Armoured 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 Armoured 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 modernisation of Poland’s tank training simulators.

The upgrade will include a modernisation of the MBTs’ turret armour 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 armour plates, and the addition of extra armour developed by the German company 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 armour-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 stabiliser systems will be changed from hydraulic to electric.