The Polish army is now equipped with three versions of the German-made Leopard 2 Main Battle Tank including the A4, A5, and the Leopard 2 PL.
Citing open source information, the Polish army has a total of 137 Leopard 2A4 Main Battle Tank (being upgraded to 2PL), 105 Leopard 2A5 MBTs, and less than 10 Leopard 2PL MBTS. With the donation of its old Soviet-made T-72s to Ukraine, Poland also ordered 250 American M1A2 Abrams SEP V3 as well as 180 South Korean K2 tanks.
The contract to acquire German-made Leopard 2A4 MBT was signed in 2002 for a total of 105 Leopard 2A4 which is the first operational successor to the Leopard 1 MBT.
In November 2013, the Polish Ministry of Defense (MoD) signed an agreement for the acquisition of additional Leopard 2 main battle tanks (MBTs) and related military equipment. This new order included the delivery of 105 Leopard 2A5 MBTs, 14 Leopard 1A4 MBTs, 18 Bergepanzer 2 armored recovery vehicles (ARVs), as well as 200 trucks and peripheral material.
The Leopard 2A4 is armed with a 120 mm smoothbore gun which has been developed by Rheinmetall and fires two types of ammunition, APFSDS-T, and HEAT-MP-T. The APFSDS-T has an effective range of over 2,000 m and the HEAT-MP-T has a high degree of effectiveness against both soft and hard targets.
The Leopard 2A4 has a crew of four including a driver, commander, gunner, and loader. The hull of the Leopard 2A4 has spaced multilayer armor and is divided into three compartments with the driver at the front, fighting in the center, and the power pack at the rear. Some variants of the Leopard 2A4 are equipped with add-on armor to increase the protection of the crew against mines and improvised explosive devices.
The Leopard 2A5 is an upgraded version of the Leopard 2A4 main battle tank designed and manufactured by the German Company KMW (Krauss-Maffei Wegmann). The main armament of the Leopard 2A5 is identical to the Leopard 2A4 which consists of one 120mm L44 smoothbore gun.
The armor consists of a combination of steel plates of different hardness, elastic materials and other non-metallic materials which could resist 125 mm APFSDS rounds fired from a distance of 1,500 m. The Leopard 2A5 is fitted with improved armor protection over the frontal arc with the turret front having a distinctive arrowhead shape. This provides a significant increase in protection against both kinetic and chemical energy attacks. The turret interior has been fitted with spall liners. The side skirts also incorporate composite improved armor.
The Leopard 2PL has several new improvements to strengthen the combat capabilities of the Leopard 2A4 tanks used so far in the Polish army, in terms of firepower, ballistic protection and situational awareness, as well as crew work comfort, with wide involvement of the national defense industry.
Modernization to the 2PL standard includes, among others, replacement of the hydraulic stabilization system of the cannon and turret drive with electric ones, improvement of the Rh-120 L44 smoothbore gun, and its adaptation to new types of ammunition.
The Leopard 2PL M1 features new improvements including the PIX function allowing the PERI R17 commander’s observation device to be automatically set to the position from 0° to 180° according to the tank direction. The crew can also select the last or first echo of the laser range finder. The tank is also equipped with an automatic extinguishing fire fighting system in APU (Auxiliary Power Unit) compartment.
For the engine, the Leopard 2PL M1 is fitted with a cold-weather start system, allowing starting the engine without restarting electronic devices as well as a micro charging battery for the tank during storage. Other improvements also include active cooling for the electronics controller compartment of the “EWNA” guidance and stabilization system and integration of a thermal identification system for friendly troops or Foe.
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