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Gliwice-based Bumar-Łabędy showcased an upgraded variant of the LEOPARD 2 MBT, known as 2PL, on the first day of MSPO 2019 in Kielce on 3 September.

The most visible difference in comparison with a standard LEOPARD 2 MBT is the changed shape of the turret, a result of additional armour. Other changes include replacement of the hydraulic gun stabilisation system with an electric one and improvements to the L44 smoothbore gun, which will now be able to fire more advanced types of ammunition, including the DM63 and DM78 CSDS-T/DM88. The 2PL variant also features PCO’s KLW-1 ASTERIA thermal vision camera for the gunner and commander, as well as PCO’s KDN-1 NYKS reverse camera. Total vehicle weight is increased by 4t to 59.2t.

Poland has 247 LEOPARD 2s, acquired from Germany: 128 A4s in 2002-2003; 14 A4s + 105 A5s in 2014-2015. The A4s are now being upgraded to the 2PL standard by Polish industry, led by PGZ’s Bumar-Łąbędy, in cooperation with Rheinmetall Landsysteme, which was responsible for preparing the modernisation plan. According to a contract signed in December 2015, work is to be completed on 128 2A4 tanks by November 30, 2021: an additional agreement for 14 further tanks was signed in July 2018. It is anticipated that the 2PLs will have their communication systems replaced in the near future with modern solutions offered by two Polish companies – Teldat and WB Electronics.

The first vehicle underwent factory tests in Germany in early 2018. On completion of this phase, the Polish partner became responsible for further work – the prototype was sent to Bumar Łabędy in July 2018. By August 2019, range acceptance tests of both prototype and test vehicle were accomplished in cooperation with another Polish company, WITPiS. The final field test is now being prepared. It is now expected that certification for completion of tests on the prototype and test vehicle will be ready in September this year. During MSPO 2019 it was confirmed that, despite some delays, the first four 2PLs are expected to be handed over to the Polish Army later this year.

Robert Czulda

Confidence is high that the first four LEOPARD 2PL main battle tanks will be officially handed over to the Polish Army before the end of 2019. (Photo: Robert Czulda)

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