During MSPO 2016, the Polish Armaments Group (PGZ) presented a technology demonstrator of an upgraded LEOPARD 2A4 MBT, known as LEOPARD 2PL. A contract between the Ministry of National Defence, PGZ and its subsidiary, Bumar-Łabędy, was signed in late 2015.
Poland plans to modernise 128 2A4 tanks in the first phase. The representatives of PGS do not hide that there are two goals of the LEOPARD 2PL project – the first is to improve the operational capabilities of aging LEOPARD tanks, donated in recent years by Germany from Bundeswehr’s stocks (in Polish service since 2002).
The second goal is to acquire indigenous capabilities in terms of further modernisation, maintenance and repairs. In order to achieve it, various companies will be involved, including PCO, ZM Tarnów, WZM from Poznań, Rosomak SA and OBRUM Gliwice. Rheinmetall Landsysteme from Germany is a foreign partner in this project. This company is responsible for a modernization project and technical documentation. Ultimately the Bumar-Łabędy company will become an owner of intellectual rights of the project on Polish markets.
There are several elements of a planned upgraded. The PL version is planned to have new situational awareness sensors (including a thermal camera and new observation sensors for a tank commander, a thermal camera for a gunner, and a day/night camera for a driver), electrical turret drive, hydraulic stabilization of a gun and additional armour. Poland does not plan to replace original L44 120 mm gun with a new gun, such as LEOPARD 2A6’s L55 variant. However, after an upgrade the 2PL will be able to fire DM63A1 kinetic energy rounds and DM11 HE rounds. To achieve it, the 2PL will have a fire control system upgraded as well.
New armour is designed in cooperation with IBD Deisenroth Engineering from Germany. It will be possible to easily remove armour and replace it with a new set if needed. According to the PGZ, this armour will give the turret of the 2PL better ballistic protection than in Leopard 2A5. It will be comparable with the 2A7 version, the PGZ says. At the current stage an upgrade of the communication system is not planned.
The total weight of an upgraded vehicle will go up from 55 tonnes to 59 tonnes. It is planned that the 2PL will stay in operational service for roughly 30 years. The first 2PL prototype is planned to be ready by March 2018. The first five tanks will be produced in Germany, with another twelve being produced in Poland but in cooperation with German industry. A remaining 110 will be upgraded only by a Polish company, without German assistance. The MoND has planned to receive it in late 2018. The remaining tank should be delivered to the customer in late 2020.
At the same time Poland plans to acquire new armoured recovery vehicles (ARV) for both Leopard 2A5 and 2PL tanks. It is possible that Bumar Łabędy in cooperation with Rheinmetall will buy up to 20 BPz 3 ARVs. At the same time during MSPO 2016 WZM in Poznań in cooperation with Flensburger Fahrzeugbau Gesellschaft (FFG) presented a plan of modernization of currently used BPz 2s.