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How Long It Took Poland to Buy Leopard 2, And How Long It Took Germany to Help Repair Them

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Polish Leopard 2PL during military exercises / Illustrative photo from open sources
Polish Leopard 2PL during military exercises / Illustrative photo from open sources

What path and difficulties Poland went through to arm their army with NATO standard modern armored vehicles

The Polish journalist Grzegorz Jasinski wrote an article dedicated to the history of the transition of the Polish Armed Forces to the German Leopard 2A4 and Leopard2A5 tanks.

In short, even in the 2000-2010s, when the German Bundeswehr had an objective surplus of tanks, the rate of Leopard 2 deliveries to the Armed Forces of Poland did not exceed a few dozen vehicles a year. And after the purchase of the first batch of about 140 tanks, Poles still needed help from Germany for several years after that to repair and service the purchased tanks on preferential terms.

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How Long It Took Poland to Buy Leopard 2, And How Long It Took Germany to Help Repair Them, Defense Express, war in Ukraine, Russian-Ukrainian war
The Leopard 2 tanks of the Polish Army / Illustrative photo from open sources

In more detail, it looked like this. Back in the early 2000s, Poland faced the fact that the available T-72M and PT-91 Twardy had a rather limited potential for new modernization and high maintenance costs. But Warsaw needed tanks that met NATO standards and could be used in an armored brigade, as part of Poland's obligations to the Alliance.

This is how the Ministry of Defense of Poland came up with the idea to buy 128 used Leopard 2A4s from Germany with a wear rate of 20-30% at that time, the package included the purchase of several tens of thousands of 120-mm shells, the supply of auxiliary vehicles and crew training. It is interesting that at that time the Polish military had the opportunity to literally "sort through" the tanks that were in storage and choose the best units from almost 600 available vehicles.

The agreement on the supply of Leopard 2A4 for the Polish Army was concluded in January 2002. The first batch of 53 vehicles was delivered between September 2002 and March 2003, the other 73 tanks were delivered by the end of 2003.

How Long It Took Poland to Buy Leopard 2, And How Long It Took Germany to Help Repair Them, Defense Express, war in Ukraine, Russian-Ukrainian war
The Leopard 2 tanks of the Polish Army / Illustrative photo from open sources

The Polish military was very pleased that operating costs of the Leopard 2A4 or the combat training of crews were at least 20-30% lower than the costs of maintaining the T-72M and PT-91 Twardy. But then Poland faced a new challenge: inability to provide quality service to the Leopards. Therefore, in June 2003, Poland and Germany concluded an agreement stating that the 10th Polish Brigade (armed specifically with the Leopard 2A4) was included in the rear support system of the Bundeswehr. The agreement actually lasted for 8 years, and during this time the Poles could buy spare parts at discounted prices and use the services of German specialists for the repair or maintenance of these tanks.

The first overhaul of the Leopard 2A4 was carried out in Poznań in 2011.

How Long It Took Poland to Buy Leopard 2, And How Long It Took Germany to Help Repair Them, Defense Express, war in Ukraine, Russian-Ukrainian war
The Leopard 2 of the Polish Army / Illustrative photo from open sources

In the early 2010s, Poland faced the problem of replacing almost 200 obsolete T-72M and PT-91 Twardy tanks. Against this background, the Ministry of Defense of Poland purchased a new batch of tanks from Germany. Moreover, just at that time, the German Bundeswehr announced its desire to sell "surplus" Leopard 2A5s, and the Germans themselves sent Poland an offer to buy these tanks.

But then it will be interesting to trace the following timing. In November 2013, Poland and Germany signed a contract worth almost 200 million euros for the delivery of 105 Leopard 2A5 and 14 additional Leopard 2A4 tanks. It took up to 6 months for Polish specialists to select tanks for delivery. During 2014, Poland received 91 Leopard 2A4 and Leopard 2A5 tanks, during 2015 – another 28 Leopard 2A5 tanks.

How Long It Took Poland to Buy Leopard 2, And How Long It Took Germany to Help Repair Them, Defense Express, war in Ukraine, Russian-Ukrainian war
American M1A2 Abrams and Polish Leopard 2PL / Illustrative photo from open sources

The 2013 contract for the delivery of a new batch of Leopards allowed Poland to increase its armored fleet to 1,000 vehicles. But after 2015, the opportunity to buy used Leopard 2 directly from Germany or from other operators of the world arms market essentially ran out. That is why Poland was forced to take practical steps to purchase American M1 Abrams and South Korean K2.

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