SZCZECIN, Poland – On April 11 and 12, NATO enhanced Forward Presence (eFP) Battlegroup Poland saw the Romanian and British contingents Hand Over, Take Over ceremonies, which both took place at the Battlegroup's headquarters in Bemowo Piskie, Poland. The Romanian and British armies have been contributing their troops to the U.S.-led multinational unit since its establishment in 2017.
Like the Sky Guardians who preceded them, the Romanian Iron Cheetahs will enhance NATO eFP Battlegroup Poland with air defense capabilities. In Poland, they have deployed their signature "Gepards", an all-weather-capable German self-propelled anti-aircraft gun (SPAAG). The vehicle is based on the hull of the Leopard 1 tank with a large fully rotating turret carrying the armament – a pair of 35 mm Oerlikon KDA autocannons and the two radar dishes – a general search radar at the rear of the turret and the tracking radar, and a laser rangefinder, at the front between the guns. Each gun has a firing rate of 550 rounds per minute, which gives a continuous fire time of 37 seconds before running out of ammo (with 680 rounds for both guns).
Romanian Army Major Constantin Cațaonu, center right, Commander of the Iron Cheetahs, passes the colors to the guidon bearer during a Hand Over, Take Over ceremony in Bemowo Piskie, Poland, April 11, 2023 © Specialist Kevin Brown
Romanian soldiers assigned to the Iron Cheetahs and Sky Guardians stand in formation during a Hand Over, Take Over ceremony at Bemowo Piskie, Poland, April 11, 2023 © Specialist Kevin Brown
U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel James Ray, right, Commander of NATO eFP Battlegroup Poland delivers remarks during the British Army contingent Hand Over, Take Over ceremony in Bemowo Piskie, Poland, April 12, 2023 © Specialist Kevin Brown
U.K. Major Ed Faulkner, Commander of the incoming Royal Lancers Aliwal Troop calls the U.K. formations to attention during the British army contingent Hand Over, Take Over ceremony in Bemowo Piskie, Poland, April 12, 2023 © Sergeant Matthew Foster
Polish Army Brigadier General Piotr Fajkowski, left, Commander of the 15th Mechanised Brigade, shakes hands with U.K. Major Freddie Taylor-Dickson, outgoing commander of The Royal Lancers, Prince of Wales Troop during a British army contingent Hand Over, Take Over ceremony in Bemowo Piskie, Poland, April 12, 2023 © Sergeant Lianne Hirano
With the United States as the Framework Nation, NATO eFP Battlegroup Poland is currently led by the 1st Battalion, 9th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division and comprises three other Allies, i.e. Croatia, Romania and the U.K. They all work in concert with the Polish 15th Mechanised Brigade into which the Battlegroup is integrated.