MILMAG Defence & Space 02/2020 »

MILMAG - The Military MagazinePoland forms a new tank battalion in the East - MILMAG - The Military Magazine

Poland forms a new tank battalion in the East

A new tank battalion is being formed as part of the 19th Mechanized Brigade, which is stationed in the city of Lublin. The unit will be subordinate to the recently established 18th Mechanized Division, which will have the task of protecting Poland’s eastern regions from any kind of military threat, if such ever occurs.

Deliveries of modified T-72s should run until 2025, with 46 MBTs planned for handing over in 2020, 35 in 2021 and 2022 each year, 34 in 2023, 33 in 2024 and 39 in 2025, bringing the total number to 230 vehicles. The contract has an option for additional 88 MBTs to undergo modification / Photo by: ZM Bumar-Łabędy

The formation of a new tank battalion commenced with the delivery of a batch of recently modified T-72M1 main battle tanks. Although it’s not exactly known, how many tanks were delivered to the unit so far, a video published on social media shows at least two vehicles being transported by trailer trucks. Eventually, the battalion will consist of 58 modified T-72M1 MBTs. 

The new tank battalion will be included into the structure of the 19th Mechanized Brigade. Eventually, the Brigade will be composed of two such units, what will bring the total number of MBTs at its disposal to 116. 

The second tank battalion is currently serving under the command of the 21st Podhale Rifles Brigade, which also is part of the 18th Division, but will be diverted to the 19th Brigade in due time. 

In return, the 21st Podhale Rifles Brigade will take command of a motorized battalion, which is yet to be formed. The new unit will be equipped with Rosomak / Patria AMV 8x8 armoured vehicles. 

Aside from the tank battalions the 19th Brigade will consist of the 19th command battalion, 3rd mechanized battalion, 19th mechanized battalion, 19th self-propelled artillery squadron and 19th air defence squadron. 

The contract for modification of an unspecified number of T-72M1 MBTs was signed in July 2019 between the Polish Ministry of Defense (MoD) and a consortium, composed of the Polish Armaments Group (Polska Grupa Zbrojeniowa, PGZ), ZM Bumar-Labedy and Wojskowe Zaklady Motoryzacyjne (WZM). The agreement is worth 1.75 billion Polish Zloty (€399 million). Deliveries should run through to 2025. 

‘We are modernizing the equipment, which is in the inventory of the Polish Army. Thanks to this upgrade, main battle tanks will be equipped with modern targeting, navigation and observation systems, as well as new digital comms’, said Mariusz Blaszczak, the Minister of Defense, during the signing ceremony. 

The scope of upgrade works includes the installation of more efficient observation sets for the commander, driver and gunner, which will enhance situational awareness of the crew, especially in low visibility conditions, as well as new digital internal/external communication systems, such as radios and FONET system from WB Group. 

The modification of T-72 MBTs is considered to be an interim solution before the MoD moves forward with the long awaited procurement of several hundred next generation tanks. New MBTs will supplement and eventually replace currently operated T-72s and PT-91s, which no longer meet the requirements of the modern battlefield. 

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