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Poland wants to participate in the project, which will lead to the development of the next generation European main battle tank (MBT).

A few days ago President, Andrzej Duda (Poland) acknowledged his country might decide to procure a large number of next generation European MBTs as a partner in the joint Franco-German Main Ground Combat System (MGCS) – as long as indigenous companies have a meaningful manufacturing role in the programme. There was no indication of what this means for mid-to-long term plans for the U.S. Army to base an entire tank division in Poland at their own cost.

Will Germany and France remain sceptical about allowing Poland to join the MGCS project? Both countries preferred to work on the design of the next generation European MBT in a small bi-national consortium (in the form of the KMW and Nexter Defence Systems – KNDS – partnership), rather than to design this vital land system “by committee”.

In the latter scenario of increased partners mean increased risk project of delays or cancellation. This was the case in a number of past Pan-European programmes. Poland is not known for making timely or complete procurement decisions. Will France and Germany even welcome Poland’s participation? What are the benefits to them if Poland is involved?

Poland sees involvement in MGCS as a means for addressing the main priorities of its long awaited “Wilk” programme to modernise Poland’s large, obsolete MBT fleet.  Under Wilk, Poland procure several hundred next generation MBTs; however, local production is crucial for the Polish defence industry’s health and longevity.

Another MBT challenge relates to Poland’s Leopard 2A4 tanks, which soon will be upgraded to the 2PL standard. Their future operational use is limited as they will require replacement in due course.

It is unclear which Duda’s administration prefers to save time in the Wilk process with participation in MGCS – with Polish industrial benefits, or buy an existing platform from a third country and “Polinise” it at a particular stage(s) of the manufacturing process with national industry participation… And what of a 100% indigenous Wilk programme?

Michal Jarocki