Armor: February 7, 2002


Poland retired its entire fleet of 815 T-55s last year, leaving it with 662 T-72s (of which 226 are the improved PT91 variant). Plans exist to reduced the tank fleet to 400 by 2006 or 2008 as the Army is reorganized. The Poles want to convert to 120mm NATO tank ammunition. One solution is to lease 128 Leopard-2A4s from Germany for use by the 10th Armored Cavalry Brigade, which is now part of the German Army's 7th Panzer Division. This lease has been held up by various technicalities but should go through. After that, the Poles plan to convert T-72s into T-72/120s by installing a new boxy US-style turret with a German 120mm smoothbore cannon. It is not clear if the eventual fleet of 400 tanks armed with 120mm guns would include the leased German vehicles or not. Bumbar-Lebedy, the Polish tank manufacturer, says it needs orders for 30 new tanks a year in order to maintain the production base to build the turrets for the conversion (to start in 2005) but Poland is unlikely to find money to upgrade or build more T-72s.--Stephen V Cole


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