Poland is considering spending up to €18.6bn to replace its entire fleet of Soviet-era BWPs (Bojowy Wóz Piechoty or Infantry Fighting Vehicle), according to Deputy Defence Minister Bartosz Kownacki, quoted on 15 March by local press agency PAP. New tracked vehicles would replace the thousand or so BWP-1s and 2s still being used by Poland’s army despite their obsolescence.
“This is a major undertaking for the next dozen years which, according to various estimates, will generate a cost of between 20 and 80 billion zloty [€4.5bn and €18bn] and if we decide to acquire two types of infantry fighting vehicles, lighter and heavier units,” Kownacki said.
He added that Poland is already looking at various partnerships including a joint purchase with the neighbouring Czech Republic. As FOB wrote last month, the two governments are already talking about joint development of a new troop transport vehicle. Poland could also base a new vehicle on the chassis of the South Korean K9 self-propelled howitzer, acquired under licence by Polish manufacturer Huta Stalowa Wola to build the Krab self-propelled howitzer locally.
Warsaw has been looking for a successor to its BWP 1/2s since the collapse of the Soviet Union. The BWP-2000, developed between 1990 and 1999 was the first attempt at replacing the fleet. But despite the development of two prototypes, the programme was put on ice in 2005 in favour of the KTO Rosomak armoured vehicles, followed in 2009 by a modernisation programme for the BWP-1. Since then Poland has favoured development of a new universal platform which would not only replace the infantry vehicles but also serve as a basis for a future light battle tank.
Since 2013 Poland has accelerated efforts to modernise and expand its military capabilities against the backdrop of tension with Russia. Warsaw plans to spend almost €37bn over the next decade to meet NATO’s recommended 2% of GDP for its defence budget.