WARSAW — Eastern European allies are benefiting from Western European know-how and technology to upgrade their amphibious vehicle capabilities, as seen by the cooperation developed between Poland and the Czech Republic with defense manufacturers from Germany and Austria, respectively.
Last May, Germany's Rheinmetall (RMMV) and two Poland-based state-run defense players, Polish Armaments Group (PGZ) and its subsidiary, OBRUM Gliwice research unit, signed a deal to jointly build a new amphibious armored personnel carrier (APC). Under the plan, the six-wheel-drive vehicle is to replace the Polish military's outdated Soviet-designed vehicles.
With a load capacity of at least 3.5 tons, PGZ said the new APC will be a "highly functional platform which could be used in reconnaissance and other types of missions."
"The program reflects the government's ambitions to position Poland as a regional leader in the field of security and defense," professor Marek Jablonowski, a political scientist from the University of Warsaw, said. "This tendency within Polish political circles has been further strengthened … since the outbreak of the crisis in Ukraine, and it is gaining importance ahead of the parliamentary elections [this October]."
Set up in December 2013 and based in Radom, in Poland's central part, PGZ has replaced Bumar Group as the leading player in Poland's defense industry. The group consists of more than 60 companies operated by an aggregate workforce of some 17,500 employees, according to data released by the manufacturer. PGZ says it has annual revenues of about 5 billion zloty.
Armored Vehicles for Czechs
Following the government meeting at which the contract was approved, Gen. Josef Becvar, the chief of staff of the Czech armed forces, said the procurement will significantly enhance the military's staff command and communications capabilities.
"Modern means of ensuring troops' protection and communication capabilities are key to an efficient implementation of missions on the modern battlefield," Becvar said, as reported by local monthly Parlamentni Listy.
Currently, the Czech armed forces operate 107 Pandur II vehicles. These include the infantry fighting vehicle, ambulance and armored personnel carrier variants.
The Pandur II was developed by Austria's Steyr-Daimler-Puch. General Dynamics acquired Steyr-Daimler-Puch in 2003, and the Austrian manufacturer is now part of General Dynamics European Land Systems.