The Minister of Defense, Mariusz Blaszczak, informed on Twitter that the Polish Army will obtain 300 used MRAP (Mine Resistant Ambush Protected) Cougar 4×4 vehicles. The procurement is a part of the Pegasus modernization program, that aims to reinforce the Polish Army with at least several hundred multi-purpose vehicles, primarily for the army special forces. The Pegasus, however, has encountered a lot of obstacles on the way and the sole procurement of vehicles for special forces was abruptly stopped. Despite this a sale of Cougar MRAPs, with delivery announced to take place by 2022.
Although necessity is one of the key factors playing a role here, the procurement is sole a hasty one and the purchase of used equipment brings some concerns. One concern is the fact that the Ministry of Defense reached for an off-shelf solution and how suitable it will be for the roles and terrain it will be operating in. The majority of the MRAP’s operational use has been seen in Afghanistan. The heavy Cougar 4×4 MRAPs are going to fill the special forces and some units of regular army components, the RG-31 and RG-33 MRAPs which were procured under the same program as the Cougar are favoured by US special forces. The MRAP class of vehicles was designed to protect its crew from IED blasts, like those encountered during the Iraq War and the War In Afghanistan, depending on how the Polish armed forces plans to deploy the new vehicles remains to be seen.
The procurement of the Cougar is also a blow to local production as the ministry will be allocating its funds out of Poland, rather than grant a local company orders for a new multipurpose wheeled vehicle. The question remains how this purchase will influence the introduction of production of Polish MRAP vehicles developed by Huta Stalowa Wola in cooperation with Czech company Tatra. These vehicles were designed to fulfil the requirement for new command vehicles for artillery units.