Infantry Fighting Vehicle (IFV) / Fire Support Vehicle Concept
With assistance from BAe Systems of Britain, the Poles are attempting an all-new IFV design through the PL-01 initiative.
Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited:
OBRUM of Poland attempted work on the earlier, largely traditional, Infantry Fighting Vehicle (IFV) - the WPB Anders - which now appears to have been abandoned. Instead, the company, with support from British-based BAe Systems Land Systems, has taken up a new, more advanced vehicle project in the "PL-01". As it stands, the PL-01 is being forged as a concept tank first with production possibility second. It is certainly an optimistic, next-generation product utilizing the latest in active stealth features (as far as vehicles go), crew survivability and offensive firepower. A prototype is slated to be unveiled during 2016 with serial production - should the program progress as far - for sometime in 2018. Export models could be ready as soon as 2022.
The vehicle, based on BAe's CV90 IFV for the Swedish Army, was first showcased at the 2013 MSPO Defence Exhibition - appearing as something out of a futuristic Hollywood film. It certainly fits some of the stronger qualities of both Eastern and Western combat tank systems. The official battlefield role for the PL-01 will be Infantry Fighting Vehicle, light tank or Fire Support Vehicle - though it will carry Main Battle Tank (MBT) capabilities without the excess weight involved.
The concept design is 7 meters long with a width of 3.8 meters and a height of 2.8 meters. Seven road wheels are featured to a hull side and the hull structure is very well protected in armor (with an up-armoring kit being optional as well). The glacis plate is broad and nearly flat giving the vehicle an overall low profile. Overall weight is in the 35 tonne range and an amphibious capability is being built-in (following some preparation for true deep water fording). Power is to come from a yet-unnamed diesel engine of at least 950 horsepower with projected speeds of 70 kmh and a range out to 500 kilometers.
Internally there is only a crew of three (unlike the traditional four seen in a modern combat tank) as an unmanned, powered turret is used, further keeping the profile of the vehicle in check. The main gun barrel - of either 105mm or 120mm caliber and electronically-stabilized and fed by way of an autoloader - is nearly fully encased as part of the turret structure with a multi-slotted muzzle brake fitted at the business end of the gun. The driver manages a position at front-left, his vision blocks just visible along the glacis plate. The commander and gunner will also take up positions within the hull itself and all work stations will feature blast-resistant seats. A laser rangefinder and thermal imaging system will be added to aid accuracy and situational awareness - indeed a 350-degree observation capability is set to be a part of the PL-01's design. Additional system possibilities are an Identification Friend-or-Foe (IFF) and GPS navigation. Survivability will be improved against land mines, IEDs and onboard fires through various measures including a fire suppression system. Beyond the operating crew, the vehicle will also be able to house up to four infantrymen in a small compartment within the rear of the hull - similar to the Israeli Merkava MBT. In this fashion, the PL-01 will be able to push ahead alongside infantry elements.
The entire vehicle will feature an adaptive technology formed from hexagonal plates along its various surfaces which will be used to adjust temperatures of the tank to ambient levels on-the-fly, adding an inherent "stealth" feature to the tank. An active defense system, for protection against incoming airborne enemy threats like armor-defeating missiles, will allow for automatic responses. Smoke grenade dischargers will further aid in screening the vehicle from potential ranged threats. While a coaxial 7.62mm machine gun will be standard, an optional fit will be possible through a Remote Weapon Station (RWS) fitted to the turret roof. This station will support machine gun weapons of 7.62mm and 12.7mm calibers as well as a 40mm Automatic Grenade Launcher (AGL) fit.
As is the case with other frontline combat vehicles, the base chassis of the PL-01 is set to become the foundation for a Command & Control (CC2) vehicle, and Armored Recovery Vehicle (ARV), mine clearance vehicle and other battlefield platforms as made possible by the flexible chassis.