Poland's Tried to 'Merge' Russian and NATO Tanks. How Did It Work Out?

Charlie Gao
By Pibwl - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=9832137

Charlie Gao

Technology, Europe

A mess or amazing idea? You decide.

Poland's Tried to 'Merge' Russian and NATO Tanks. How Did It Work Out?

When the Cold War ended, the Polish Army inherited a massive fleet of T-72s. Most of these tanks were T-72Ms and T-72M1s, which were built in Poland beginning in the 1980s. In the 1990s, these tanks served as a valuable resource for Poland as modernization of the tank into the PT-91 “Twardy.” They also gave the Polish “Bumar” tank plant valuable experience in building their own T-72 upgrade, complete with domestic ERAWA ERA, passive night vision devices, and laser warning systems. The PT-91 also was an export success, scoring a major contract with Malaysia in the 2000s.

However, in addition to modernizing T-72s, Poland adopted the Leopard 2A4 and Leopard 2A5. Adopting Leopard 2s was the first step towards Westernizing the Polish tank fleet, but it split the ammunition supply chain for Polish tanks as the PT-91s and T-72s in Polish service still used 125mm guns. Bumar plant proposed a solution with the PT-16 and PT-17 tanks, which attempted to fit Western tank tech and a 120mm cannons onto the T-72. The goals of the project were to field a secondary frontline tank to the Leopard 2A4 and to keep the Polish tank industry alive.

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