WARSAW, Poland — As a centrist government and new managers are taking over control of Poland’s state-dominated defense sector, PGZ, the largest industry player here, is eager to join efforts to build Europe’s new main battle tank and boost cooperation with the continent’s defense groups.

OBRUM, a PGZ subsidiary specialized in research and development for the country’s land forces, has announced in a statement it is joining “the game for the European tank of the future.”

The company “will play an important role in the ambitious program of the European Defence Fund (EDF) whose goal is to create a European base tank, a so-called main battle tank, of a new generation,” OBRUM said.

The Gliwice-based firm stated it “has been qualified and declared by leading European partners an ideal candidate to take part in the above-mentioned program to develop a European tank.”

Developing a new tank has become something of a cottage industry in Europe, with new company groupings and funding sources popping up almost randomly from time to time. The biggest effort is the German-French Main Ground Combat System, which is progressing with high-level backing from Berlin and Paris. There is also a an industry-led effort to update the Leopard 2 fleet of European armies.

Parallel European Union-based initiatives, while seemingly disconnected, have previously served to anchor a given defense-cooperation project in the wider Brussels financing scheme, enabling subsidies to flow to projects initiated outside of it at a later time.

The bloc has allocated funding to the EDF for projects to enhance member states’ capabilities and interoperability. Some of the main expected outcomes include the development of a new generation of land platforms, among them a main battle tank. On May 16 Brussels announced the results of an EDF call for proposals under which more than €1 billion ($1.1 billion) will be distributed to support 54 joint European defense research and development projects.

The latest development in Poland comes about two months after Krzysztof Trofiniak, a seasoned defense industry manager, was named as PGZ’s chief executive. Trofiniak’s return to the group was enabled by the December 2023 swearing in of a new coalition government which ousted the right-wing Law and Justice party from power after eight years of rule.

OBRUM’s enthusiasm with regards to “taking part in such a prestigious project” marks a major shift in rhetoric compared with the one exhibited by defense and industry officials under the country’s previous cabinet. During that time, the Ministry of National Defence was showing a strong preference for U.S. and South Korean weapons, including tanks, leading Warsaw to buy M1A1 and M1A2 Abrams, and K2 Black Panthers.

At the same time, offers of cooperation put forward by Warsaw’s European allies were not taken up. A German-French invitation for Poland to join MGCS was met with little interest by the previous leadership of the Polish ministry.

“Due to the distant implementation schedule of the MGCS project and the lack of decisions on its final form, a decision has been taken to reinforce the Polish Armed Forces with M1 Abrams and K2 Black Panther tanks,” a ministry spokesperson told Defense News in July 2023, roughly five months before the change in government.

Jaroslaw Adamowski is the Poland correspondent for Defense News.

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