27/03/2014 by Paul Fiddian - Armed Forces International's Lead Reporter
A new stealth tank design is in development for the Polish Land Forces via a partnership between BAE Systems and Poland's OBRUM (Ośrodek Badawczo - Rozwojowy Urządzeń Mechanicznych) defence group.
The PL-01 currently exists as a low-observability battlefield concept demonstrator, which had its public debut in September 2013. Now, work is progressing on the PL-01 stealth tank prototype, with completion scheduled for 2016, followed by full-rate production and entry-into-service two years later.
The PL-01 battlefield tank's key features include an angular structure, aimed at deflecting radar. Reactive panelling is also present, able to adjust the PL-01's surface temperature so it matches local environmental conditions. This capability will help the PL-01 avoid thermal imaging scans while hi-tech camouflage will also serve to lower its visual profile.
Polish Stealth Tank
The Polish stealth tank might be designed to operate under a cloak of concealment, rendering it virtually invisible, but it also boasts considerable firepower. Its armament includes an unmanned turret, smoke grenade launchers and a 7.62mm coaxial machine gun.
For the operator, an array of integrated cameras supply an almost 360 degree field of view and the design can accommodate three Polish Land Forces personnel in total. Top speed will be 70 kilometres per hour on flat surfaces, dropping to 50 kilometres per hour on rough terrain, while the PL-01 will have a maximum range of 500 kilometres.
First and foremost, Poland's PL-01 will serve as a battlefield tank but modular features will also allow it to serve in the command, mine clearance or armoured vehicle repair roles.
The modern-day Polish Land Forces has been active since 1918. Its equipment includes some 900 tanks, 1,500 infantry fighting vehicles and 900 helicopters. Upgraded Soviet-era technology leads the way but a modernisation programme is in motion, of which the PL-01 forms part.
The Polish Land Forces' recent operational engagements have included deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan.