Since 2014, a promising infantry fighting vehicle Borsuk (“Badger”) has been developed in Poland. To date, this project has reached the stage of full-scale testing and is approaching mass production. Now the new BMP is completing the stage of factory tests, and in a few weeks it is planned to start state tests, which will determine its future fate. At the same time, the Ministry of Defense has already drawn up a plan for the purchase of serial equipment and the rearmament of the army.
Technique on trial
The promising BMP “Badger” has been developed since 2014 by a group of enterprises led by Huta Stalowa Wola SA. In 2016, the development companies revealed the general appearance of the future armored vehicle, and the following year at the MSPO-2017 exhibition for the first time presented a full-size mock-up sample. A full-fledged prototype of the new BMP was assembled and rolled out in 2018.
Soon, the experimental BMP entered the factory (preliminary) tests, the purpose of which was to confirm the performance characteristics and identify possible shortcomings with their subsequent elimination. After finishing the development, the first prototype was handed over for firing and detonation tests to determine the actual protection characteristics.
Based on the test results of the first BMP Borsuk, the project was finalized. According to its new version, a second prototype was built in 2020-21. It is he who is now participating in factory tests. In addition, he was already involved in full-fledged army exercises. It is assumed that this machine will become the benchmark for subsequent mass production.
At the beginning of February 2022, the leadership of the Procurement Agency of the Ministry of Defense of Poland spoke about the current work on the Borsuk product and revealed plans for the near future. It was reported that the previously approved work schedule remains in force. The second prototype is still in preliminary tests, but they will be completed before the end of June.
After the factory tests are completed, qualification (state) tests will begin. According to the previously disclosed schedule, they will continue until 2023. Their goal is to confirm all characteristics and demonstrate compliance with customer requirements. According to the results of state tests, “Badger” will be able to enter service with the Polish army.
At the end of April, the Procurement Agency announced the expansion of plans for state tests. Four additional IFVs have been ordered for use in these activities. The terms of their delivery are not specified, but it is clear that the equipment must be manufactured and delivered before the completion of qualification tests. Thus, the fate of the new development will be determined with the help of five experimental / pre-production armored vehicles.
The Borsuk project is being developed with the aim of updating the fleet of motorized infantry armored vehicles. The main BMP in the Polish army is still the old Soviet BMP-1, which has the local designation BWP-1. Combat units have more than 1000 vehicles of this type, built in the USSR, Poland and Czechoslovakia. BWP-1 has long been outdated morally and physically, which is why they need to be replaced. It was previously stated that the ᴅᴇᴀᴅlines for their service would come as early as 2020-22.
According to current plans, the new “Badger” will become a direct replacement for the old BMP-1. Serial production of such equipment is going to be launched next year, immediately after the completion of state tests. Plans are scheduled for almost a decade and a half ahead – the release of new technology will continue until the mid-thirties.
According to official data, between 2023 and 2035. the Polish army will purchase 588 new type of combat vehicles. With the help of this equipment, a complete re-equipment of 10 mechanized battalions of ground forces from the “first line” will be carried out. If the organizational structure of the army is changed, the plans for the Borsuk BMP may be revised in one direction or another.
In parallel with the production of new “Badgers”, the modernization of a part of the cash BWP-1 will be launched. The replacement of some units and systems will improve the characteristics of old equipment and partially increase the combat capability of units in anticipation of new infantry fighting vehicles. The rest of the BWP-1 will be written off as unnecessary. In the long term, modernized vehicles will follow them, as a result of which only modern Borsuk will remain in the troops.
Poland also expects to receive foreign orders. BMP Borsuk is already participating in the tender of the Ministry of Defense of Slovakia, which also wants to replace the old equipment. Whether the Polish industry will be able to win and get the desired contract, time will tell. Other competitions and tenders have not yet been reported.
The Borsuk product is a tracked infantry fighting vehicle with bulletproof armor, carrying a developed ωєαρσи system. Declared high mobility on land and the ability to cross water obstacles by swimming. The combat weight of the BMP in the original configuration reaches 25 tons. When installing additional devices, this parameter increases to 35-40 tons.
For the “Badger” a caterpillar chassis of a front-engine layout with an aft landing compartment for 7-8 people was developed. It is made in a welded case of bulletproof / anti-fragmentation armor. The exact level of protection has not yet been reported. According to various estimates, the frontal projection can withstand 14,5-mm bullets or small-caliber projectiles. It also provides for the installation of additional booking modules that increase the overall level of protection and increase the mass. In this case, the machine loses the ability to buoyancy.
A diesel engine MTU 8V199 TE20 with an HP 720 power is placed in the nose of the hull. and automatic transmission Perkins X300. The undercarriage has six road wheels on board and is based on the German-British Horstman InArms hydropneumatic suspension. On the highway, the BMP develops a speed of at least 70 km / h with a cruising range of 800 km. Movement on the water is carried out with the help of two water cannons at a speed of up to 8 km / h.
Borsuk prototypes are equipped with a Polish-designed ZSSW-30 fighting compartment. Manned turret with 30mm Bushmaster II Mk 44 automatic cannon, 7,62mm machine gun, smoke grenade launchers and Spike missile launcher. Used multi-channel sighting systems, incl. panoramic commander’s sight.
Thus, the new BMP Borsuk has obvious advantages over existing BWP-1 vehicles. Higher mobility and cross-country characteristics have been obtained, as well as an increased level of protection and ƒιяєρσωєя. All this has a positive effect on the overall efficiency in solving the main tasks – the transportation and ƒιяє support of personnel.
The future of mechanized infantry
There are high hopes for the Borsuk infantry fighting vehicle project. With its help, the Polish army plans to replace long-obsolete equipment and bring the performance of motorized infantry to the required level. At the same time, it will be possible to create a reserve for the future – the new Badgers will serve for the next few decades.
In the early stages, a promising project encountered some difficulties, but later successfully reached the test. In recent years, experienced infantry fighting vehicles have coped with the tests and give the Polish army a reason for optimism. Apparently, the available and ordered equipment in 2022-23. will successfully pass qualification tests, and Borsuk will enter service. However, a noticeable effect from this will only appear in a few years, but for now the BWP-1 will remain the main infantry vehicle.