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MSPO 2021: Modernized T-72M1R main battle tank on display.

| 2021

The 41.5-ton T-72M1R MBT is a modernized version of the T-72M1, benefiting mainly from new fire control, observation and communication systems.

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T-72M1R displayed at MSPO 2021 (Picture source: Army Recognition)

On December 19, 2011, Army Recognition published that Poland's Ministry of Defense had set aside 138.6 million zlotys ($42 million) for two contracts to modernize its T-72M1 and PT-91 main battle tanks, the Army's First Regional Logistics Base in Walcz said in a statement. A 32.2 million-zloty deal for the overhaul of 20 T-72M1s was awarded to the repair plant Wojskowe Zaklady Motoryzacyjne (WZM, part of Wojskowe Przedsiebiorstwa Remontowo-Produkcyjne, the country's second-largest defense group). Of these, 10 units are to be modernized by Nov. 30, 2012, and a further 10 by Nov. 29, 2013.

Meanwhile, the ministry had decided to re-run its 106.4 million-zloty tender to upgrade 40 PT-91 tanks after a bid submitted by Poland's biggest defense manufacturer, Bumar Group, was rejected. Under the plan, some 20 PT-91s are to be upgraded by Nov. 30, 2012, and the remaining 20 by Nov. 29, 2013. "By the deadline for submission of bids, three bids were submitted for the first contract, and one bid for the second contract," the statement said. In 2019, the Polish Land Forces had about 586 T-72M1s and 233 PT-91s, according to figures from the ministry.

The process of upgrading the Polish T-72s was initiated at the Gliwice-based BUMAR-ŁABĘDY S.A. facility. As mentioned hereabove, the vehicles were overhauled and modified on the basis of a contract signed in July 2019 with the 1st Regional Logistics Base in Wałcz, valued at PLN 1.75 billion. PGZ S.A. is leading a consortium working on that order, also involving the BUMAR-ŁABĘDY facility and WZM facility as well. As written then by Defence 24, the scope of work covered by the agreement envisaged recovery of capabilities and introduction of upgrades in case of the T-72M1 main battle tanks are reintroduced into the inventory of the Polish army.

According to the release, it was planned that the Ordering Party would receive the first modified and overhauled main battle tanks within the framework of the 2019 plan for the BUMAR-ŁABĘDY facility.

The upgrades include modernization of the W-46-6 engine which develops 780hp (574 kW) and is fitted with a digital starter system. New power supply systems with buffer batteries are also installed, along with passive optoelectronics for the driver ant the commander. The gunner’s station is enhanced with the III-gen. KLW-1 Asteria thermal imaging camera. The modifications also involve the installation of a digital intercom and external comms suite, integrated with the BMS solution. This refers to RADMOR’s radios and the FONET system. Finalization of work pertaining to the agreement signed in July 2019 is expected to take until 2025.

The modernized T-72M1R can reach 80 km/h and is armed with a 125mm 2A46 gun, two 7.62mm PKT machine guns and a 12.7mm WKM machine gun. The crew is limited to three: commander, gunner and driver/mechanic.

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