Land Forces

Poland Cleared to Procure Abrams MBTs: USD 6 bn. at Stake

M1A2SEPv3 Abrams
M1A2SEPv3 MBTs belonging to the US Army.
Photo. Sgt. Calab Franklin/U.S. Army

US State Department issued an approval, concerning the sale of 250 M1A2 Abrams SEPv3 MBTs to Poland. The transaction is to entail a maximum cost of USD 6 bn.

Poland has been cleared to procure 250 M1A2 Abrams SEPv3 MBTs via the FMS scheme, along with 250 AN/VLQ-12 CREW DUKE counter-IED systems, and support vehicles as follows: 26 M88A2 Hercules ARVs, 17 M1110 Joint Assault Bridges. The package approved by the US Government also includes 15 AGT-1500 engines, 500 7.62 mm M240C machine guns, and 276 M2 heavy machine guns - probably also for the Hercules platform.

Information on ammunition procurement plans has been unveiled as well, and the said plans include 9,186 M865 training sabot rounds, 4,592 M1002 training multi-purpose rounds, and 1,3920 M830A1 MP-HE rounds, along with 6,960 multi-purpose programmable XM1147 rounds. The above translates into 20 thousand live rounds (shaped-charge and programmable rounds), and more than 13.5 thousand training munitions.

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Lt. Col. Krzysztof Płatek, spokesman for the Armament Agency added that the notification also includes the KEW-A1 sabot rounds. The quantity of these has not been unveiled. Płatek noted that it is just an entry-level solution that would serve as an introductory stock, once the MBTs are commissioned. It is planned that the latest Polish and Germans rounds are certified for use with the Abrams MBT - including the DM63A1. The detailed specification of the main battle tanks remains confidential. The State Department also approved the sale of repair packages, spares, tools, and CROWS-LP remote control weapons stations (unspecified quantity), instruction manuals, training systems, logistics, and maintenance support services. In total, the transaction is said to have a value of USD 6 bn. (ca. PLN 23.8 bn.).

The final amount may be lower since the prices defined for Congress always refer to the maximum possible scope of acquisition. The US government now has 15 days to reject the sale, however, this is not probable. After 15 days expire, Poland would receive the draft G2G agreement - LOA (Letter of Offer and Acceptance) - once a memorandum is negotiated, the agreement can be then concluded.

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General Dynamics (manufacturer of the MBTs), BAE Systems (manufacturer of the ARVs), Leonardo DRS (supplier of the bridges), and Raytheon and Lockheed Martin would be the designated contractors. The DSCA notification states that no offset is involved in this transaction.

Mariusz Błaszczak, head of the MoD, also issued a comment on the approval: "This is an incredibly important reinforcement of our defence capabilities, and one of the most important defence contracts signed in Polish history".

According to the previous statements that had been made by the Polish MoD, the MBTs are to be used by four MBT battalions of two brigades that would be a part of the newly formed 18th Mechanized Division: 1st "Warszawska" Armoured Brigade based in Wesoła (already existing), and 19th Mechanized Brigade (being formed).

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The MBT acquisition programme is to receive financing outside the MoD's budget. 23.3 bn. zlotys is the preliminary amount allocated to this project, also covering the expansion of the infrastructure and training. The Polish Ministry of Defence had declared that the first deliveries could potentially happen this year. If this is the case, tight cooperation with the US authorities would be required. It is likely that the sale of the Abrams MBTs was one of the topics discussed during the US Defense Secretary - Lloyd Austin - visit to Poland.

Wilk new generation MBT programme is expected to be taking place in parallel to the Abrams acquisition. The preliminary assumption is that the aforesaid initiative sees deep involvement of the domestic defence industry.