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Land Platforms

Poland ponders possibilities for upgrading T-72s

31 August 2017
The PT-17 features a number of improvements over Poland’s existing PT-91 series. Source: Wojciech Gargala

Polish company Zakłady Mechaniczne Bumar-Łabędy is scheduled to present two upgraded versions of the T-72 main battle tank (MBT) at the MSPO-2017 defence exhibition in September. The two vehicles, designated PT-17 and PT-91M2, were designed in response to the Polish Armaments Inspectorate’s need for incremental T-72 modernisation.

The PT-17 features a number of improvements to firepower, mobility, protection and situational awareness over Poland’s existing PT-91 Twardy series of tanks, including the PT-16 prototype displayed in 2016. Notable design developments evident in the PT-17 include a change in the overall shape of the turret to a smooth, rounded, clamshell shape. The commander’s sight has been replaced with a gimballed optical mast, enabling hunter-killer engagements and improving situational awareness. The gunner’s sight appears to have been elevated relative to the PT-16, and the remotely operated weapon station has been moved to a new position on the left of the turret, behind the gunner’s sight. In addition, a new digital fire control system has been added, and the turret is equipped with an all-electric turret drive. Like the PT-16, the PT-17 is equipped with a 1,000 hp power pack, which includes an S-1000R engine. The manufacturer has stated that a 1,200 hp power pack is available as an optional upgrade.

The PT-91M2 represents more modest, incremental improvements over the T-72/PT-91. (Wojciech Gargala)The PT-91M2 represents more modest, incremental improvements over the T-72/PT-91. (Wojciech Gargala)

In terms of protection, the turret and hull of the tank have been fitted with modular composite armour panels, and armoured skirts covering the road wheels. As further protection against anti-tank guided missiles, the PT-17 is equipped with the OBRA-3 system of laser warning receivers, which are linked to the vehicle’s smoke grenade launchers, and bar armour has been fitted over the turret bustle.

Perhaps most significantly, the 2A46 125 mm gun has been replaced with a 120 mm smoothbore KMB2 gun manufactured by the Ukrainian firm Kharkov Morozov Design Bureau, allowing the PT-17 to use standard NATO tank ammunition.

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