The Polish Ministry of National Defence (MND) has decided to relocate two of its newest tank battalions from the country's western border to strengthen units stationed in the east.
The Leopard 2A5 MBTs of the 34th Armoured Cavalry Brigade (part of the 11th Armoured Cavalry Division) based in Zagan have been moved to the 1st Tank Brigade (part of the 16th Mechanised Division) based in Wesola: a city close to Poland's capital, Warsaw. While the first tanks began arriving at the beginning of April, the training of drivers, gunners, and commanders has been under way in Wesola since January.
According to Lieutenant General Leszek Surawski, Chief of the General Staff, it is expected that relocation of the first battalion will take 12 months and that the first Leopard 2A5 unit in Wesola will achieve operational capability within a year. Infrastructure and repair facilities for the new tanks are to be built within two to three years. At the same time the second battalion from Zagan will be also relocated to the Wesola garrison.
The plan to strengthen the eastern border also involves moving the PT-91 tanks of the 1st Tank Brigade based in Wesola to the 15th Mechanised Brigade in Gizycko, while its obsolete T-72M1 tanks are to be relocated to the 34th Armoured Cavalry Brigade, based in Zagan.
"By moving two [Leopard 2A5] battalions to the 1st Tank Brigade, we will create one strong armoured brigade in the 16th Mechanised Division, which is necessary on the eastern side of the Vistula River. In turn, the relocation of the PT-91 Twardy tanks to Gizycko will significantly enhance the combat capabilities of the 15th Mechanised Brigade," Gen Surawski said in a press interview for the Polish armed forces' Polska Zbrojna magazine.
The T-72s are to be used until 2021, while the PT-91s (Polish variants of the T-72M1) are planned to remain in service until 2032 and then be replaced by new tanks, followed by new infantry fighting vehicles produced under the Borsuk programme to replace Poland's BWP-1s.
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