PT-91 Twardy Main Battle Tank
Polish industry produced the T-72M1Z and Wilk upgrades and has gone on to build the PT-91 Twardy development. This has now entered service. PT-91 and its version T-72M1Z MBTs were derived from T-72 MBT through modernization, replacing and upgrading of its systems. They were designed to be a highly reliable systems having superior firepower, improved crew protection and impressive mobility. They still keep outstanding, optimally small silhouette to minimize the ballistic surface. The design concept creates very wide modernization field, as it can be done with everyone T-72 family MBT pratcically, almost without major changes in its shell.
In April 1951 was erected J. Stalin Mechanical Factory in Labedy (Regulation No.97 of Heavy Industry Minister) abbreviated later as ZMIS, with main designation to produce heavy tracked vehicles such as tanks, agricultural and artillery tractors, excavators and cranes. The name of the factory and sometimes structure was a matter of change several times within the space of these years. In 1956 it was shortened to Mechanical Factory "Labedy" in Labedy, and after joining the Labedy to Gliwice of course appeared name in Gliwice. In the years from 1951 to 1956 were produced tanks of T-34 type, later T-54 type that were produced until 1964 and next, after upgrading, tanks of T-55A type until 1969. In this last period simultaneously started production of tanks of T-55 and T-55A type, which were produced until 1979. On the base of this tank new modification was constructed with new designation as Recovery Vehicle WZT-1 and WZT-2 and Engineering Vehicle in the Experimental Production Unit, later the Research and Development Centre of Mechanical Systems (OBRUM) in Gliwice. Regulation No.77 of Machine Industry Minister from December in 1975 established, on the basis of our Factory, Mechanical Equipment Industrial Complex "Bumar - Labedy" in Gliwice.
From the year 1980 Bumar produce main battle tank T-72, T-72M1 and its variations: commander tank T-72M1K and Recovery Vehicle WZT-3 and Mine Clearing Vehicle. The Gulf War revealed some defects of this tank never the less it is treated as a tank at the turn II and III generation of tanks. So it was upgraded using domestic research and development resources such as OBRUM (Research and Development Centre of Mechanical Systems), OPTA, WITU (Military Institute of Armament), WITPiS (Military Institute of Armoured and Truck Vehicles) and constructed type PT-91 (Hard). Now it doesn't correspond fully to III generation of tanks but significantly approached to this. Bumar has produced this tank since 1993.
In September 1996 U.S. special Balkan envoy James W. Pardew Jr. visited Warsaw on 6 September to determine what Poland can do to help the "Train and Equip" program aimed at strengthening Bosnia's Moslem-Croat Federation military forces, Polish media reported. Polish Deputy Foreign Minister Robert Mroziewicz said Poland would like to participate in the "Train and Equip" program "at the lowest possible level." The U.S. asked Poland to sell T 72 tanks to be financed by a NATO fund; however, Poland declined in line with the policy of many EU states of equal distance from all sides in the Bosnian conflict. The U.S. will sell M60A tanks.
In March 2002 Prime Minister of Malaysia Mahathir bin Mohamad declared that his country will buy modernised PT-91 Twardy tanks. The contract may be worth approximately 250-300 million dollars depending on the equipment Malaysia would buy together with the tanks. Poland proposed a several dozen vehicles of technical support. The Malaysian PM watched Polish tanks at the training grounds in Wesola near Warsaw.
To keep the required horsepower and speed, PT-91 and T-72M1Z are equipped with turbocharged 850 hp diesel engine. With upgraded transmission they can attain a maximum road speed of 60 km/h. However, for low speed maneuvering, the low gear provides a continuous speed up to 7 km/h. They still enjoy excellent cross country ability. Their design creates the fording ability of water obstacles up to 5 meters depth using fording kit, however the water obstacle of 1,2 meters depth can be crossed without any preparation.