Poznan-based WZM facility has been showcasing two examples of modified BWR-derived reconnaissance vehicles: BWR-1S and BWR-1D; during the MSPO 2018 defence industry show organized in Kielce. Both vehicles have already passed the tests, including the ones concerning their amphibious capabilities.
Within the framework of the upgrade, the following new systems and hardware have all been integrated into both platforms:
Survivability and functionality of the vehicle has been enhanced by installing the SSP-1N Obra-3 self protection suite delivered by PCO, along with the Berberys type 3 multispecral camouflage solution supplied by Lubawa. Further enhancements include a new 2 kW auxiliary power unit powered by the vehicle’s fuel tanks, along with a parking heater, enlarged tanks in the rear doors, passive observation/targeting systems, ergonomic seats for the vehicle crew and rubberized tracks.
At the moment the Polish land forces operate 38 examples of the BWR reconnaissance platform derived from the well-known BWP-1 IFV. 22 BWR-1D vehicles are Soviet made (BRM-1K), while the remaining 16 come in the BWR-1S variety (BPzV, codename Svatawa), manufactured in former Czechoslovakia. These vehicles feature, among other equipment, the PSNR-05K radar, HLD-5 rangefinder and analogue communications suite. Since they have been introduced into service (BWR-1D design dates back to the late 1980s, BWR-1S is slightly younger), no modernization of the onboard equipment was carried out.
It was not until the year 2017, when, as a result of an agreement signed with the 1st Regional Logistics Base, BWR-1S and BWR-1D vehicles underwent modifications aimed at providing them with a set of new combat capabilities. The whole process was developed and the whole work was carried out by the Design and Technology Bureau of the WZM S.A. facility. Within the framework of the upgrade the vehicles underwent an overhaul (recovery of their functionality and technical status) and the onboard equipment was also modified. BWR-1S prototype was premiered during the 2017 edition of the MSPO event while this year the visitors may get acquainted with both of the vehicles that have already been tested.
In December 2017 the presented vehicles have been handed off and underwent testing at the WITPiS institute (Military Institute of Armoured and Automotive Technology) in Sulejówek. The test programme scheduled between February and June 2018 ended with a positive result. The main objective of the test programme was to assess the modified BWR’s compliance with the provisions of the Operational-Technical Requirements [Wymagania Eksploatacyjno-Techniczne - WET] approved by the Administrator - Management of Reconnaissance and Electronic Warfare of the Armed Forces Inspectorate.
The test programme included testing of the special purpose equipment introduced as a result of modifications and configuration of that system (including the equipment that did not undergo such process). The tests involved exposure to elements in a climate chamber at temperatures ranging from -30°C to +50°C and with the humidity increased to 98%. Amphibious capabilities of the vehicles have been verified as well. The self-protection system embedded onboard and its operation have been checked too. The new battlefield surveillance radar was also being tested, with a particular attention paid to its firefinder capabilities.
It was found out that the assumptions and requirements have been complied with and the modification provides an improvement of usability and effectiveness of the platform, when compared to a standard variant. The main reason for that stems from installation of specialized equipment useful when carrying out the primary tasks of the vehicle: reconnaissance, positioning system and digital datalink ensuring data exchange with other platforms on the battlefield. The modification also contributes to improved crew comfort and ergonomics.
At the moment another three vehicles are undergoing modifications, within the framework of an agreement signed back in 2017. WZM S.A.’s representatives suggest that the work is to be finalized by the end of this year. According to declarations that had been issued by the MoD, all 38 vehicles are to be modernized by 2022, which will introduce actual improvement of capabilities when it comes to the operations undertaken by the reconnaissance elements of the land forces. Usually, units as such operate at the frontline or behind the enemy lines.
The modifications are also supported economically. A modified platform received an entirely new equipment package realistically enhancing its combat capabilities, with the cost maintained at a decently reasonable level at the same time.
BWR-1 is the only specialized tracked reconnaissance vehicle operated by the Polish military now. Most of the brigades, including the armoured ones, use the BRDM-2 4x4 vehicles as the primary asset of the reconnaissance elements. In case of the units operating the Rosomak APC, regular combat APC is used to carry out reconnaissance tasks, as the specialist R1/R2 versions are yet to be introduced into service. Ultimately BWRs would be replaced by the new generation tracked “Żuk” platform, based on the new Borsuk IFV.