WARSAW — Eastern European allies are planning to acquire new armored vehicles and enhance the of their land forces' capabilities as a response to a their perceived increased land-based threat by Russia.

Numerous countries which are accelerating their respective armored vehicle programs share a border with Ukraine. These include Poland, Latvia, Estonia and Romania.

As a common trait, most programs in the region foresee the deliveries of multiwheel-drive vehicles, as opposed to tanks, in a bid to significantly enhance the mobility capabilities of their respective land forces.

In Poland, the Defense Ministry aims to acquire a further 307 more eight-wheel-drive Rosomak armored modular vehicles (AMVs) with final deliveries scheduled to be completed by 2019. This will increase the land forces’ existing fleet of 670 vehicles made by state-run manufacturer Rosomak SA under a license secured from Finland’s Patria.

The move procurement is one of the major land forces procurements under Poland’s ongoing program to modernize and overhaul its armed forces from 2013 to 2022. The planned acquisitions of weapons and military equipment are expected to total some 139 billion zloty (US$36.9 billion).

"Over the past years, there has been definitely more talk about upgrading these countries' Air Forces or enhancing their air defense capacities [than about] modernizing their land forces," an analyst from a government-run think tank in Warsaw said. "But the Ukrainian crisis and Russian [military intervention] have shifted the need to modernize these capabilities upwards."

Poland, Slovakia To Jointly Make AMVs

Poland is also cooperating with Slovakia on its armored vehicle program. Last July, Polish Prime Minister Ewa Kopacz signed a letter of intent with her Slovak counterpart, Robert Fico, under which  for Poland is to supply 30 eight-wheel-drive Rosomaks to Slovakia. As part of increased military cooperation between the two countries, their turrets will be installed by the Slovak defense industry, according to the July 3 agreement.

"In the next three years, Slovakia will buy 30 units of the new version of the Rosomak," Kopacz said at the official signing ceremony. "Owing to this, the plant in Siemianowice Slaskie will obtain more than 120 million zloty."

According to the Polish prime minister, the new variant of the vehicle, jointly made by Poland's and Slovakia's defense manufacturers, will is intended to compete in other foreign military procurements. This is enabled by the producer's renewed deal with Patria, inked in 2013, which allows Rosomak SA to offer the armored vehicle in foreign military tenders. The deal with Bratislava will mark the first foreign sales contract of Rosomak SA's flagship vehicle.

"We want to promote this new Polish-Slovak version, not only in Europe but also in other parts of the world," Kopacz said.

Kopacz said that she hoped that Rosomak's proven performance in Afghanistan, where it supported the operations carried out by Poland's military contingent, will be an additional asset to potential buyers of the Rosomak

In addition to the Rosomak, Poland also is currently developing a number of other vehicle programs for its land forces. In late July, the Defense Ministry launched a tender to buy 882 new high-mobility vehicles in both armored and non-armored variants. These are expected to replace the military’s outdated, locally built Honker vehicles, as well as enhance the mobility capability of the Polish Armed Forces.

According to t he releasedThe technical requirements call for the vehicle to be fitted with a four-wheel drive and weigh less than 3.5 tons for the nonarmored version, its total weight cannot exceed 3.5 tons per unit. The ministry is currently evaluating the bids that were due on which were to be submitted by Sept. 8, 2015.

Moreover, Earlier this year, two Poland-based state-run defense companies, Polish Armaments Group (PGZ) and its offshoot OBRUM Gliwice research unit, signed a deal with Germany’s Rheinmetall (RMMV) and to cooperate on building a new amphibious armored personnel carrier (APC). The six-wheel-drive vehicle is designed to replace the outdated Soviet-designed BRDM-2 amphibious vehicles which are operated by the Polish Armed Forces.

According to PGZ, the German-Polish APC will be a "highly functional platform" and its potential use includes reconnaissance missions.

Baltics Eye Armored Vehicles

Meanwhile, other countries that are expanding or planning to increase their armored vehicle fleets include Latvia and Estonia, as well as Romania. In a number of deals, Eastern European countries opt to purchase second-hand vehicles from other NATO member states due to tight budgets.

In early September, the Latvian military took has taken over the first four combat vehicles reconnaissance (tracked) (CVR(T)) it has acquired from the UK, the country’s Defence Ministry said in a statement.

Deliveries of a total of 123 vehicles is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2020, with the deal worth some In the deal worth 48.1 million euros (US$53.9 million), 123 vehicles will be delivered before by 2020. are scheduled to be completed by the end of 2020

"The is an important step towards bolstering Latvian self-defense capability, as these upgraded armored vehicles are to be equipped with the best anti-tank weapons, and they will significantly improve the combat and mobility capabilities of the Land Forces Infantry Brigade," Latvia’s Defence Minister Raimonds Bergmanis said. 

In, Neighboring Estonia's , the government aims to obtain 44 CV90 infantry fighting vehicles (IFVs) from the Netherlands under a contract worth about 25.2 million euros (US$28.4 million). Deliveries of the first units are scheduled for the second half of 2016. Also for Tallinn, the conflict in Ukraine has raised the importance of enabling the country's land forces with more mobility in ground-based conditions. 

Meanwhile, Romania's government is reportedly drafting a program which is to use a national emergency procedure to allocate additional funds from the budget to local defense industry players and enable the production of new weapons for its the country’s armed forces.

The new funds are to allow local defense companies to supply armored vehicles, air defense missiles, artillery systems, explosives, personal weapons and other gear for the Romanian military, according to the information obtained by local business news site Profit.ro.

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