Germany's Rheinmetall has won a €220mn contract to modernise Poland’s fleet of 128 battle tanks, the company announced on February 22.
The contract is a part of a PLN20bn programme to replace or modernise Poland's fleet of tanks and armoured transporters. That in turn comes under a still larger effort to spend PLN130bn by 2022 to modernise the army.
The Polish defence sector was consolidated in 2014 in order to raise production capacity as well as boost R&D spending. Rheinmetall specialises in automotive components and defence equipment.
“In cooperation with Poland’s Polska Grupa Zbrojeniowa (PGZ) and ZM Bumar-Labedy, Rheinmetall will serve as a strategic partner, supplying crucial key capabilities, including electronics and weapon technology,” the German company said in a statement.
The Polish government's spending drive is expected to help the sector push arms exports in the future. Polish tank manufacturer ZM Bumar-Labedy, as well as optical equipment maker PCO, will gain new orders and competence in terms of advanced observation and fire control systems thanks to working with Rheinmetall on the upgrade, Rzeczpospolita points out.
At the same time, Poland’s may be set to disappoint other international defence companies. The new Law and Justice (PiS) government hinted in November that plans to buy combat helicopters from Airbus should be cancelled. Airbus denied those reports in early February, insisting talks continue.
Warsaw has also suggested Poland may also reverse a decision to buy Patriot missiles from US firm Raytheon, although Washington holds more sway than Paris with the eurosceptic PiS. Defence Minister Antoni Macierewicz told the US ambassador earlier this month that Poland aims "to create an effective air defence system. I hope it will [consist of] the Patriot system."
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