LWI - Land Warfare
MSPO 2017: Tracked IFVs remain key focus
Tracked IFVs from both domestic and foreign companies were out in force at this year’s MSPO exhibition, a sign that industry remains focused on a potential future requirement to replace the Polish Army’s Soviet-era vehicles such as the BMP-1.
There were at least four tracked IFVs at the exhibition this year, including offerings from European suppliers such as Rheinmetall and General Dynamics European Land Systems (GDELS), as well as from domestic industry players Huta Stalowa Wola (HSW) and Obrum.
Industry officials speaking to Shephard during the show indicated that, much like other Polish defence programmes, an IFV requirement is not in any kind of tender phase and discussions are ongoing. These discussions will likely inform the Polish MoD’s future requirements process when it eventually comes round to releasing a tender document.
Although little information is available about the future tender it is believed that the Polish Army will require both a heavy and light tracked vehicle, the heavier variant likely carrying eight dismounts and weighing up to 40t. This could eventually translate into two different vehicles, or variants, of the same vehicle to ensure commonality across the fleet.
Rheinmetall displayed its new ‘KF-31’ variant of its Lynx IFV fitted with a two-man 30mm Lance turret with the addition of a Spike missile launcher. The KF-31 can weigh up to 38t and seat three crew plus six soldiers. A heavier variant known as the KF-41 can carry three crew plus eight soldiers.
With a dedicated Polish office already created to oversee the upgrade of the Leopard 2 MBT, the German company could have some advantage in a future IFV tender and an inevitable offset requirement that would undoubtedly call for local manufacturing in Poland.
Meanwhile, GDELS had its ASCOD vehicle on display with a Rafael Samson Mk2 30mm turret and Spike launchers. This configuration is the same as the vehicle currently being offered to the Czech Republic for its IFV tender. The ASCOD is currently in service with Austrian and Spanish armies and in the future will be operated by the British Army as the derivative ‘Ajax’.
Much like the Lynx, the ASCOD can come in a ‘light’ variant at 35t or a larger variant at around 42t able to carry eight dismounts.
GDELS is already working closely with Polish industry to offer up its 4x4 Eagle 5 vehicle for the 'Mustang' tender – which will see the army completely refresh its 4x4 fleet – and has inked an agreement with PGZ to locally-manufacture that vehicle, likely by Rosomak. A successful bid into that programme could influence the tracked IFV decision, and, at the very least, demonstrate that GDELS can navigate the treacherous waters that is Polish procurement.
A GDELS official told Shephard that if Poland selected ASCOD it would provide ‘synergies’ with existing operators and potentially the Czech Republic, which is on a more expedited timeline to replace its legacy IFVs. The ASCOD’s competitor in the Czech tender, the BAE Systems-built CV90, was not present at the Polish show.
In terms of domestic industry’s contribution to a possible future tracked IFV tender Polish company Obrum displayed its Universal Modular Tracked Platform with a 30mm turret and Spike missile launcher. Obrum has outlined two possible UMTP chassis variants, one with a seven wheel tracked configuration and the other with six wheels. The length of the basic seven wheeled chassis would be 7.8m weighing between 18-28t, the six wheeled vehicle would have a length of 6.9m and a weight of 16-19t.
Meanwhile, HSW also unveiled a new amphibious tracked IFV at the show called the Borsuk, or Badger in Polish.
HSW is currently under contract with the National Research and Development Centre for the project. The amphibious vehicle features a remote-controlled 30mm turret along with a 7.62mm co-axial machine gun. With a swimming capability, aided by two shrouded propellers at the rear the Borsuk is positioned as a true replacement for the amphibious BMP-1.