Responding to our questions, the Press Department at the Operational Centre of the Polish Ministry of Defence stated: “the assets coming from the US Foreign Military Financing (FMF) fund constitute specific purpose support, and one of the areas where those would be allocated is the financing of the agreement on delivery of the M1A1 Abrams MBTs for the Polish Armed Forces”.
The speculations regarding USD 288.6 million approved by the US Congress in late September, pointing to the possible financing of 116 M1A1 SA Abrams MBTs for Poland, have been therefore confirmed. The Polish Ministry of Defence has engaged in talks regarding the delivery of those main battle tanks to accelerate the replenishment of Poland's MBT stockpile - as Poland has transferred more than 230 of its legacy T-72M/M1/M1R and some PT-91 main battle tanks to Ukraine.
M1A1 SA is a legacy variant of the Abrams MBT that has, however, been upgraded. The upgrades include the fire control system or the protection system for the MBT interior. That variant is still operated by the National Guard units - also those that were deployed to Orzysz and Bemowo Piskie between 2018 and 2019, as a part of the NATO Battlegroup. According to declarations that had been made by the Polish Ministry of Defence, the first MBTs are to be delivered next year.
Div. Gen. Maciej Jabłoński, Land Forces Inspector and plenipotentiary for the Abrams MBTs commissioning process told us: „116 M1A1 main battle tanks also include a comprehensive support and maintenance package. It includes the Joint Assault Bridge bridge-laying vehicles, M88A2 Hercules ARVs, and the command vehicles as well. Alongside the 116 MBTs, we are also procuring a broad logistical package and simulators." General Jabłoński added that all of the Polish Abrams MBTs, both the legacy ones, as well as the brand new M1A2 SEPv3, would be operated by the elements of the 18th Mechanized Division. Ultimately, these vehicles would also undergo an upgrade.
Let us recall: Poland procured 250 of the latest M1A2 SEPv3 Abrams MBTs in a G2G setting back in April. The acquisition includes a broad package of support vehicles, munitions, logistics support package, and training - for USD 4.74 bn. The agreement did not envisage any offset or Transfer of Technology.
When it comes to the legacy Abrams MBTs, head of the Polish Ministry of Defence Mariusz Błaszczak stated back in July, in Polsat News, that Poland is getting the M1A1 main battle tanks in a preferential setting. “In essence, we are also paying for bringing them out of deep storage where they are now, and for the logistics support package, including spares”, Błaszczak summarized. For now, we do not know the value of the agreement. “The total value of the agreement would be defined by LOA” - the Polish Ministry of Defence Center for Operations announced. That means, the agreement still needs to be approved.
Foreign Military Financing is an instrument used to finance the defence capabilities of the US allies. The most significant beneficiaries include Israel, Egypt, but also Poland. Warsaw used to receive FMF-funded equipment in the past, such as the modifications/training package delivered alongside the first C-130E Hercules airlifters. USD 288.6 million is just a fraction of the funds with a value of USD 2.2 billion, expected to be transferred to Ukraine, and other countries in the region, facing the threat posed by Russia. For instance, the Czech Republic, providing Ukraine with Mi-24 helicopters, expected to be replaced by the US-made AH-1Z Vipers and UH-1Y Venoms, has received funds in the amount of USD 100 million.