34th Armoured Cavalry Brigade based in Żagan has received the last lot of the Leopard 2A5 tanks that have been acquired by Poland in Germany, back in 2013.
According to cpt. Rafał Nowak, the Brigade has picked up the last delivery of the tanks that have been acquired in Germany. The Leopard main battle tanks were transported via railways. The initial examples were delivered to Żagan on 16th May last year, and while the last tank arrived at the base on 30th November 2015.
The unit will also receive support vehicles, technical support vehicles and trucks. In total, on the basis of the agreement concluded by Tomasz Siemoniak and Thomas de Maizère, who were the acting Defence Ministers of Poland and Germany at the time, 105 Leopard 2A5 tanks and 14 Leopard 2A4 tanks were procured by the Polish Army. The value of the agreement has been estimated to be contained in an amount of EUR 180 – 200 million.
Thus, the rumours that emerged at the beginning of this year, suggesting that the tank deliveries for the Polish army may be suspended, were not confirmed. The aforementioned issue has been raised in the light of the German effort, the aim of which was to increase the target quantity of the Leopard 2 tanks that were being used by the Bundeswehr. The German Army still operates a minor quantity of the 2A5 tanks, which nevertheless does not make it possible (even if the 2A6 and 2A7 vehicles are taken into account) to meet the quantitative requirements of the existing units, at least equipment-wise.
However, the Germans decided to buy at least several older Leopard 2A4 tanks from the industry. These tanks had been withdrawn from service and stored earlier on. Ultimately, 328 Leopard tanks are to remain in the German Army, while using 225 tanks only was being planned earlier. After they are reintroduced into service in the Bundeswehr, 2A4 vehicles will undergo modernization.
Acquisition of a batch of the Leopard 2A5 tanks has a positive impact on the capabilities possessed by the Polish Armed Forces. In comparison with Leopard 2A4 tanks, the new vehicles are equipped with enhanced armour and electric drive of the turret. The commander additionally has a thermal vision camera at his disposal. The specialists indicate that there is a need of constructing a correct support system, including overhauls and repairs (operational support) and modernization of the tanks, all within the territory of Poland. It shall also be noted that there is a great need of considering the issue of the technical support vehicles, since the Bergepanzer 2 vehicles have a limited scope of usability, when it comes to the 2A5 variant of the Leopard main battle tank. In a longer run, it may turn out that modernization of the tanks, within the scope of the communications suites or observation systems, could be required.
One of the battalions of the 34th Armoured Cavalry Brigade is going to be operationally subordinated (during the peacetime) to the German 41st Armoured Grenadiers Brigade. On the other hand, a single German battalion of Armoured Grenadiers (mechanized infantry) is going to act under the jurisdiction of the Polish command. This is going to make it possible to expand the military cooperation bilaterally.