|BUMAR LABEDY S.A. Zaklady Mechaniczne
|Main battle tank
Since 1991 preliminary design work on a new Polish MBT has been underway. The original intention was to use key components and subsystems from NATO countries but for a variety of reasons it was subsequently decided to use locally manufactured subsystems wherever possible.
The hull and turret shell are to a new design but some key components such as the suspension, the 125 mm smoothbore gun and the automatic ammunition loading system are from the T-72M1 MBT which has been manufactured under licence for both the home and export markets at the Labedy Metal Works since 1981 (qv).
The engine is a 1,340 hp multi-fuel diesel which has already been tested at the PZL-Wola factory in Warsaw and is a further development of the improved S-12U V-12 supercharged multi-fuel diesel designed some years ago for the modified T-72 MBT with an output of 838 hp at 2,000 rpm.
The overall layout of the new MBT is conventional with the driver being seated at the front left, commander and gunner in the turret and the power pack at the rear. Since the introduction of the T-54/T-55,
Russian MBTs have always had a circular turret of cast armour but the new Polish MBT has a Western type turret with vertical sides and a well sloped front for increased protection.
The armour of the new MBT is unusual in that it has three layers of add-on protection to the basic steel hull and turret. The lower one is a layer of very tight ceramics which gives protection against Armour-Piercing Fin-Stabilised Discarding Sabot (APDFDS) projectiles, a middle layer of explosive reactive armour (containing plastic high explosive) and a top layer of radar-absorbing material (RAM) to give the vehicle improved stealth characteristics.
The vehicle will have a combat weight of 52 to 55 tonnes and be fitted with an advanced version of the Polish PEO `Drawa' computerised fire control system used in conjunction with an Israeli EL-OP Thermal Elbow Sight (TES).
The 125 mm smoothbore gun will fire the complete family of separate loading ammunition as well as the Russian designed Svir 9M119 (called the AT-11 `Sniper' by the US/NATO) laser beam-riding anti-tank guided missile which has a range of 5,000 m. This has a HEAT (High Explosive Anti-Tank) warhead which will penetrate 700 mm of steel armour.
Russia has proposed that Poland could undertake licensed production of the Svir 9M119 and its HEAT warhead could also form part of a new Polish designed and built anti-tank guided missile system.
It is expected that the recently designed Polish MBT would be available in seven to ten years, provided that continuous funding is provided by the Polish Government.
At present, funding is being provided by the Polish Government's Central Committee for Scientific Research (KBN) under the code-name of `Gorilla' and funding through to the prototype stage appears to be firm. It is likely that the first prototype could be completed around 1998.