Poland wants to join the European tank program
Poland’s new desire to join the European Main Battle Tank project, an initiative spearheaded by the Franco-German tandem, is part of a larger regional trend under which numerous Eastern European allies are pursuing plans to acquire new vehicles and replace their Soviet-designed tracked and wheeled rides.
Following an Aug. 16 meeting between Polish Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak and his German counterpart, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, the Polish leader said the country wants to join the European tank program, adding it could “be a good solution for the Polish defense industry” and “beneficial if this initiative were to be accelerated and it became a PESCO project” strengthened by European Union funding.
The Permanent Structured Cooperation initiative, or PESCO, is a framework established by the EU in 2017 to allow its member states to engage in joint projects related to military cooperation. In March 2018, the Council of the European Union adopted an initial list of projects for development.
An updated version of the list released in November 2018 includes, among others, a project to build a prototype European armored infantry fighting vehicle that could serve as the basis of an amphibious assault vehicle and a light armored vehicle. The participating member states include Italy, Greece and Slovakia.
Germany and France, alongside other countries, are already collaborating to develop a European medium-altitude, long-endurance remotely piloted aircraft under the Eurodrone project.
Local observers say that while the Polish land forces operate about 247 Leopard 2A4 and 2A5 tanks acquired from the German military, the country’s armed forces urgently need to procure new gear to replace its Soviet-designed tanks.
“The armored and mechanized battalions have about 500 T-72 and PT-91 tanks at their disposal, but a large share [of those tanks] is not operational and should be decommissioned as soon as possible,” an analyst at a state-run, Warsaw-based think tank told Defense News. “To make another attempt at modernizing them would be a waste of very limited resources.”
Poland’s defense industry had developed a tank prototype, the Anders, but it became clear to Polish officials that it made more sense to join a European program, the analyst said. [end]