Defence Policy

Kaczyński Announces a “Very Serious” Reinforcement of the Polish Armed Forces: Abrams MBTs Procurement as a Pilot Programme

Image Credit:  Tomasz Głowacki, Robert Suchy/
Image Credit: Tomasz Głowacki, Robert Suchy/

Deputy PM, Jarosław Kaczyński, during his visit at the HQ of the 1st Armoured Brigade in Wesoła announced that large-scale modernization of the Polish Armed Forces has been planned, involving extra instruments that would be used for the purpose of financing. The procurement of the M1A2 SEP v3 Abrams MBTs shall be treated as “a kind of a pilot programme”. Work on relevant statutory regulations has already been initiated.

M1A2 SEP v3 Abrams procurement plans have been announced by Jarosław Kaczyński, head of the National Security and Defence Matters Committee of the Council of Ministers, during his visit at the HQ of the 1st Armored Brigade in Wesoła. Mariusz Błaszczak, head of the Polish Ministry of Defence, stated that Abrams MBTs would become a part of the inventory of two brigades of the 18th Mechanized Division, the 19th Mechanized Brigade operating the T-72 platform, and the 1st Armored Brigade - currently stationed in Wesoła.

The Abrams MBT procurement, with major quantities of ammunition, support platforms, and simulators, has a price tag of PLN 23.3 bn. Financing is to be provided outside of the primary modernization budget, managed by the Polish Ministry of Defence. The Council of Ministers has already adopted a relevant resolution. The Ministry of Defence claims 250 MBTs in total would be procured, along with a broad support package. The MoD also claims that purchase is regarded as an urgent operational requirement and does not mean that earlier Wilk New Generation Main Battle Tank project is concluded.

We have very good news for you. Our Army, in a short time - the first deliveries, if everything goes well, would happen next year - will be enriched with a high number of the most modern Abrams main battle tanks in the world, as it is the latest variant that is currently being introduced into the inventory of the US Army. These are super-modern tanks that are also very maneuverable, capable of fighting and laying down fire with great accuracy and huge effectiveness. This is a new quality when it comes to the armament of the land forces. The number of MBTs would be high enough, to create at least 4 tank battalions.

Deputy PM, Jarosław Kaczyński

Kaczyński also announced that a large-scale expansion programme would be implemented, with regard to the Armed Forces. The programme would make use of extra financing. It will be launched, within the framework of relevant statutory regulations. Kaczyński admitted that the undertaking comes at a high price. Nonetheless, he also said that it is necessary due to the security context in which Poland found itself.

But I also have another piece of news for you. At the moment we are developing - and it is the last phase of this process - a proposal for actions, statutory actions included, as they are the basis for what would actually happen, all of which would support expansion, and a very serious reinforcement of the Polish Armed Forces. The Times, the situation, and the place we're in require this to be done - and thus, we want to do it. This is our obligation. This is a major undertaking, an expensive one - but I will not go into details. However, considering the current situation that Poland found itself in, and also the possibilities given to us by the global financial market, the undertaking discussed here would be feasible. And we want to carry it out, we are on track.

Deputy PM, Jarosław Kaczyński

Jarosław Kaczyński announced that the programme would be carried out in line with a relatively short timeline, but that timeline would take the manufacturing processes, usually very time-consuming, into account. Financing would be distributed across a longer timeline, with proper instruments employed for that purpose.

Certain details tied to financing are yet to be developed. It needs to be scattered over time. But the operation itself would take place over a relatively brief period. Although you should remember, that this state-of-the-art weaponry is not something that you buy at a convenience store. One needs to order it, and wait for it to be manufactured. Anyway, we are dealing with a sort of pilot programme here. This is what I am discussing now, at this very moment. And we have this grand programme,. that I hope, would be implemented, bringing a major benefit to the Republic [of Poland], and its security.

Jarosław Kaczynski, Deputy PM

The announcement of an accelerated increase of defence expenditure, and the use of special-purpose instruments to achieve the said increase, had been made in the past as well. We were not given any specifics. However, in 2018 and in 2020 the Polish Ministry of Defence did receive extra funds, exceeding the limit stemming from the Act on Transformation and Technical Modernization and their funding, amended in 2017 - 1.6 and 3 bn. zlotys respectively. The money has been allocated, above all, to the Wisła Medium Range Air Defence Programme.

This year’s defence expenditure has been planned in an amount of PLN 51.8 bn. - 2.2% of GDP envisaged in the Polish budget. The Act on Transformation and Technical Modernization of the Armed Forces and their funding (amended) assumes that the GDP share would be changing gradually. 2.5% level is expected to be achieved in 2030. The National Security Strategy adopted last year assumes that this value would be achieved quicker, namely by 2024.

Notably, the external instruments have already been used in the past, to finance the defence expenditure outside the MoD’s budget. The F-16 programme is a good example here - with a 0.05% GDP limit assigned to it between 2002 and 2010, separately from the 1.95% of GDP allocated to defence expenditure. The budgetary calculations back then were done with the use of a different methodology. Interestingly, back in 2015 when the remaining amount was paid for the F-16s, (the so-called B-vouchers, amount of PLN 5.3 bn.) it was decided to use financing outside the budget of the MoD. This meant that 2.22% (of GDP) was used in total, to finance the defence expenditure - according to the data published by NATO. The assumption was to spend 1.95% of GDP for the preceding year, within the MoD’s budget (this referred to the year 2014, a value lower than the one associated with 2015).

It seems that similar forms of financing would be utilized at a much broader scale now. Gradual increase of the Polish Armed Forces’ capabilities is the most probable assumption for this - the process would be probably similar to the acquisition of the Polish F-16s. We still do not know the impact that the programme would have on the Polish budget as a whole. And whether, and how, it would be pursued and implemented.