The MSPO 2022 defense expo in Kielce, Poland, provided a view into the significant modernization and transformation the Polish Army is going through. Positioned at the eastern edge of NATO, Poland, and the Baltic states could be facing the brunt of a Russian onslaught if hostilities would spill beyond Ukraine. That’s why the country is beefing up its military, modernizing its armed forces, and replenishing hardware handed over to Ukraine with new equipment.

As the venue to show the strength of Poland’s domestic military industries, MSPO highlighted drones, armored vehicles, artillery, air defense, robotics, loitering weapons, small arms, and ammunition. It also highlighted armies’ interest in modernizing current equipment and adapting to implement lessons learned from recent conflicts.

Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) are high on the agenda of most armies, with armed drones brought to the center stage. Reflecting on some of the recent combat successes and failures, counter-UAS (both soft and hard kill) and loitering weapons were presented, offering alternatives and countermeasures against armed drones.

Poland was the first NATO member to receive the Turkish Bayraktar UAV and its MAM series of lightweight aerial munitions. Photo: Defense-Update
A close-up showing the MAM series of lightweight aerial munitions. Photo: Defense-Update
Three versions of the MAM miniature munitions from Rokletsan. From left to right: MAM-C, the first of the series introduced in 2016, the new MAM-T (heavier and winged bomb), and MAM-L (laser). Photo: Defense-Update
The WB Group displayed the X-Fronter, a lightweight multi-rotor drone that can be used for recce, security, or attack missions. Configured as a loitering munition it carries a small warhead weighing 300 grams. Photo: Defense-Update.
The Drone40 loitering weapon from the Australian company Defendtex employs an encapsulated multirotor platform that can perform reconnaissance or attack missions. Photo: Defense-Update
Drone 155 is a larger multirotor platform from Defendtex, able to carry up to 15 kg of payload, including two mortar bombs, as shown here, on a 70-minute mission, 80 km from its launch point. Photo: Defense-Update
The Warmate loitering weapons can be operated individually, or in groups or swarms, joined by reconnaissance drones acting as observers, and the Warmates that carry out the kinetic attacks. Photo: Defense-Update
The Dragonfly from the WB Group is a loitering weapon that employs a multirotor design but carries the same warheads used by other Warmate family munitions. Photo: Defense-Update.
A C-UAS system combining radar, EO sensors, and multi-barrel 12.7mm heavy machine gun displayed at MSPO 2022. Photo: Defense-Update.
Another C-UAS solution combines a hard kill (2x23mm canon) and a soft kill (jammers). Photo: Defense-Update.
A photo collage of exhibits displayed at MSPO 2022. Subscribe to see more photos in full size. Photos: Defense-Update.

Air defenses for mobile forces are a capability gap identified in the recent hostilities in Ukraine and Caucasus. At MSPO, Poland has shown the Pilica, a very short-range air defense (VSHORAD) using a twin 23 mm automatic cannon and Grom or Pirun missiles mounted on a light truck. The locally developed Pirun was delivered to Ukraine and has proven effective in combat against helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft, including UAVs. For wide-area air defense Poland will use the Raytheon MIM-104 Patriot (long/medium range/altitude) and MBDA CAMM as transportable, medium-short range air defense.

Artillery is also receiving its share of interest, primarily in securing the ammunition supply chain, range extension, and introduction of long-range effects using extended-range projectiles, rockets, missiles, and loitering weapons. The Polish military pursues such measures for current and future procurement programs replacing legacy Soviet-era artillery and multiple rocket artillery systems with South Korean K9 SPGs and HIMARS multiple rocket launchers. In recent years the K9 has become the most popular SPG in the west, serving Norway, Turkey, Estonia, and Poland. More prospects are promising – the first shipments of K9s have already been delivered to India; the system is currently being considered for replacing the SA-90 SPG in the British Army. In future versions of the K9, the South Korean manufacturer plans to introduce longer guns, up to 58 calibers.

The Polish Krab Self-Propelled Gun combines the chassis of the Korean K9 with the turret of the British AS90. Photo: Defense-Update.
The Excalibur GPS-guided 155mm projectile has been widely used by NATO forces and is now used in Ukraine. Photo: Defense-Update
For precision artillery fire the Mesko group is offering this laser-homing artillery munition. Photo: Defense-Update
Precision fires can also be employed by mortars, with this GPS-guided 120mm mortar bomb. Photo: Defense-Update

The artillery is also transformed with the introduction of precision fire capability. At MSPO, several companies displayed guided projectiles, rockets, and missiles. Hanwa has displayed the CHUNMOO – a truck-mounted rocket launcher that carries twice the rocket load of the American HIMARS. CHUNMOO can launch 12x239mm GMLRS class rockets or deploy two ATACMS-class guided missiles, each with a diameter of 607mm, enabling the rocket artillery systems to launch tactical ballistic missiles, engaging targets at a long range with high precision. The Turkish Roketsan company has displayed guided rockets designed for 122, 230 mm rockets, and the Ukraine company Luch displayed the Vilkha, a modification of the R624M rocket equipped with pyrotechnic thrusters to compensate for the rocket trajectory and achieve higher precision fire with BM30 (Smerch) MRLs. This capability enables a single BM-30 to engage eight different targets in a single salvo.

Leopard 2PLM1 is an upgraded version of the German Leopard 2A4 employing systems and upgrades provided by the local industries in cooperation with the German manufacturer. Photo: Defense-Update
A model of the Korean K2 Black Panther is to be supplied to Poland. The model shows an installation of a Trophy active protection system, but the integration of such a system has yet to be required by Poland. Photo: Defense-Update

A recent success of a Korean program in Poland was the selection of the K2 main battle tank to equip the Polish armored forces. Poland is rapidly replacing its T72s with advanced tanks. The Koreans responded quickly and committed to delivering 180 K2 tanks by 2024. Up to 1000 tanks are being procured. These include K2 tanks currently produced by Hyundai-Rotem for the Korean Army. Follow on orders of 820 improved versions (K2PL) tanks of this type will follow beginning in 2026 as the Polish industries ramp up production of this tank. Other tanks being procured by Poland include 146 Leopard 2, locally modernized to the 2PL standard by 2026, and 250 American Abrams M-1A1/A2-SEPV3 MBTs which will also be delivered by 2026. These tanks will be augmented by recovery tanks, bridge layers, and breaching vehicles. Mechanized infantry units will also receive a new armored vehicle – Borsuk, designed and built in Poland. Rosomak, the locally-built version of the Finnish AMV, is also accepting further modifications, including a 30mm turret and 120 mm mortar. The new Waran 4×4 vehicle was selected to be equipped as a tank destroyer using four British Brimstone missiles.

The Polish 8×8 Rosomak APC is about to receive a mid-life upgrade that will likely include new variants, one of which will receive this remotely controlled turret equipped with two missiles and a 30mm gun. Photo: Defense-Update