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The Polish Armed Forces have accepted the first two LEOPARD 2PL prototypes, following an overlong testing process. The tanks were transferred from the manufacturer, Zakłady Mechaniczne Bumar-Łabędy in Gliwice, to the 10th Armoured Brigade in Świętoszów (South West Poland).

Rheinmetall is the strategic partner for the modernisation programme and is directly involved in the conversion of the first 17 Main Battle Tanks with the initial phase to train Polish industrial personnel, who will then be able to carry out the work on a permanent basis.

The modernization to the Leopard 2PL standard includes, among other things, the integration of electric turret drives and the adaptation of the onboard cannon to modern tank ammunition (DM11 HE, hollow charge ammunition with programmable time delay fuse and DM63 KE, sabot rounds with temperature-independent powder). The fire control system will be equipped with new optoelectronic systems such as the KLW-1 Asteria third-generation thermal imaging camera in the commander's and gunner's observation and targeting devices. The turret will be additionally armoured and new fire and explosion protection systems will be installed in the combat and engine compartment. The vehicles will undergo thorough maintenance in order to restore the tanks' full performance.

Bumar sees the delivery of the first tanks as a key phase of the program. Further tanks are already ready for the acceptance procedure. All 142 main battle tanks are to be delivered in the enhanced Leopard 2PL version by July 31, 2023.

Gerhard Heiming