MSPO 2020 Overview – Polish Armed Forces

Despite the threat of COVID-19, the Polish Armed Forces made a strong showing at MSPO 2020. From the Gendarmerie to the Territorial Forces to the Special Forces, almost every branch of the military was present at the expo. Some gear was shown for the first time, including the production model of the Polish Leopard 2PL upgrade and LMP-2017 mortar.

Small Arms and Light Weapons

Small arms and light weapons made up a significant portion of the military display, being items that can be easily handled by visitors. The stars of the show were the MSBS “Grot” rifle and VIS 100 were on display in the territorial forces booth, which was open for visitors to inspect and handle. Glocks, H&Ks, and FN Minimis light machine guns used by the Polish Special Forces were also on display. Interestingly, certain units appear to be adopting Trijicon RMR and Holosun 507 pistol red dots for their pistols, including the H&K USP. Mounting of red dots to Glocks was accomplished with either dovetail plates on the rear of the slide, or through Glock’s MOS optic system.

New VIS 100 pistol from Radom (Charlie Gao)

60mm mortars were also extensively displayed. Special Forces continued to display the Czech “Antos” mortars they acquired in 2017, but the new Polish LMP-2017 was on display by Territorial Forces. Both mortars are very similar, with liquid sights that allows for quick vertical ranging and three mode selectors on the bottom of the tube that allows the choice between “automatic”, triggered shot, or safe.

40mm Grenade Launchers were also present, both the German H&K GMG and American Mk 19 Mod 3. At the present, no Polish-adopted 40mm automatic launcher appears to have incorporated an airburst system, but 40mm airburst systems were displayed at previous MSPOs.

RDS equipped handguns exhibited by Polish SOF. (Credit: Charlie Gao)

Armor and Vehicles

There was a full complement of armor at MSPO 2020, brought by Poland’s mechanized and armored units. Notably, both the Poprad VSHORAD vehicle and its companion radar vehicle were present. Counter-battery radar, coastal missile defense, and engineering trucks were also present. Almost every “modern” artillery vehicle in the Polish inventory was present: the 120mm mortar variant of the Rosomak, the AHS Krab, and the modernized Wz. 77 DANA in Polish service.

Rosomak 8×8 multi-role armored vehicle (Charlie Gao)

But the tanks were the most popular with the media and visitors. The latest modernization of the Polish T-72M1 fleet, the T-72M1R was on display and open for visitors. The T-72M1R is the minimalist result of a long standing program to upgrade the fleet. The most visible upgrade is the PCO KLW-1 Asteria thermal camera which is installed right in front of the gunner’s hatch, in a similar position to the Sosna-U on the Russian T-72B3. The viewer for this sight is just to the left of the older TPD-K1 sighting device: it is unsure of the level of integration of the PCO sight into existing fire control systems since the sight was off during visitation hours. The upgraded tank is also integrated into the Polish BMS system, sporting a large multifunction display for the commander to communicate on. New intercoms and night vision devices for the commander and driver are also present in the T-72M1R

T-72M1R Commander Station (Credit: Charlie Gao)

The serial production Leopard 2PL was also on display. The upgraded armor was in full display, with massive turret applique armor hanging off the sides. In addition to turret up-armoring, the Leopard 2 PL also features increased thickness side skirts for the first three panels and an independent thermal commanders sight, albeit in a different position than on the Leopard 2A5. Other small upgrades include a rear view camera by PCO and BMS integration.

Leopard 2PL side armor upgrade (Credit: Charlie Gao)

Other Equipment

Quite a lot of equipment was exhibited on the support side as well. Various logistics and maintenance units were present, and showed the equipment they used to keep vehicles and arms functional. One of the more notable demonstrations was an integrated test system for the laser warning receivers and smoke grenades on the Hitfist turret.

Hitfist defensive systems test suite. (Credit: Charlie Gao)

The Polish Navy also demonstrated a range of unmanned sea vehicles. Two of them for demining: one for sweeping and the other for defusal. Another was meant for general survey of waterways and coasts.

Polish navy unmanned magnetic/acoustic minesweeper (Credit: Charlie Gao)

A movement detection and surveillance system was also shown off by an engineer unit. The system is comprised of seismic sensors and remote cameras were linked to a central control station to automate surveillance, presumably for security around mobile command points or other high value targets

Automated surveillance system (Credit: Charlie Gao)

Overall, the Polish military contingent at MSPO 2020 brought a wide variety of gear, although the amount visitors could interact with was necessarily reduced compared to previous years.