WARSAW — Germany's Rheinmetall Landsysteme GmbH and Poland's state-run defense company Bumar-Labedy SA have signed a deal worth €130 million (US $144 million) to modernize the Leopard 2A4 tanks, which are operated by the Polish military, Bumar-Labedy said in a statement.

Under the plan, Rheinmetall will build a prototype upgraded tank, dubbed the Leopard 2PL, and modernize a trial batch of about a dozen units. Following this, the German manufacturer will transfer its know-how to Bumar-Labedy, and the Gliwice-based company will upgrade the remaining tanks. In 2002, Poland acquired 128 Leopard 2A4s from the German Bundeswehr.

Bumar-Labedy is part of the state-run Polish Armaments Group (PGZ), an entity set up by the Polish authorities to integrate the country's fragmented state-owned defense industry.

Rheinmetall and PGZ are also cooperating on a program to develop a new armored vehicle for the Polish military, with Poland's planned military vehicle tender in mind. Last year, the two partners unveiled plans to develop a six-wheel-drive armored vehicle "oriented to the requirements of the Polish Army's LOTR [light armored reconnaissance vehicle] procurement program."

Poland's Ministry of Defence is planning to replace the military's outdated Soviet-built BRDM-2 amphibious armored vehicle with a new vehicle, which is to weigh less than 20 tons.

Jaroslaw Adamowski is the Poland correspondent for Defense News.

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