Polish Army: Abrams MBTs for 4 Battalions of the 18th Mechanized Division. Financing - Outside the MoD’s Budget.

Image: Mateusz Zielonka/Defence24.pl.
Image: Mateusz Zielonka/Defence24.pl.

The Polish Armed Forces would soon reinforce their inventory with a “high number” of Abrams MBTs, in their latest variant, Jarosław Kaczyński, Deputy Prime Minister, and head of the Defence and National Security Committee of the Council of Ministers announced. The deliveries of these are planned to begin as early as next year. The financing would be provided via a governmental programme valued at PLN 23 bn., outside the Polish defence budget. The MoD said that 250 M1A2 SEP v3, along with support vehicles, will be purchased.

According to previously made declarations, Deputy Prime Minister Jarosław Kaczynski, and Head of the Polish Ministry of Defence, Mariusz Błaszczak, outlined the M1A2 SEP v3 MBTs procurement plan during their visit at the 1st Armored Brigade’s HQ in Wesoła. Kaczynski also said that the Army would soon be in possession of a “high number of Abrams tanks”.

Kaczyński added that the deliveries, “if everything goes well”, would commence next year. It is planned that MBTs for at least 4 battalions are procured. “This is a qualitative leap when it comes to the Army’s armament”. It is planned that MBTs for at least 4 MBT battalions are acquired. The MoD said that 250 M1A2 SEP v3, along with support vehicles, will be purchased.

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, 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

Head of the Polish Ministry of Defence, Mariusz Błaszczak added that identical MBTs would soon be transported to the storage facilities the US Army has established in Poland (Powidz AB). Błaszczak noted that Abrams MBTs would become a part of the inventory of the 18th Mechanized Division (1st Armoured Brigade in Wesoła), and of the 19th Mechanized Brigade. PLN 23.3 bn. is the price tag associated with the governmental programme that would also include (alongside the MBTs), the acquisition of support vehicles, training and logistics support package, along with major quantities of ammunition.

Błaszczak provided the journalists with a specific piece of information, claiming that the financing scheme would be organized outside of the Polish MoD’s budget, based on a separate resolution adopted by the Council of Ministers. The General Commander of the Polish Armed Forces, general Jarosław Mika noted that Abrams can utilize programmable rounds, among other munitions. The MBTs would be purchased with a broad simulation package.

SEP v3 is the latest variant of the Abrams MBT. The US Army has already placed an order for 550 of these, manufactured with the use of the deep-storage M1A1s. The lifecycle of the MBTs would be reset for all of the parts used. Extra, version-specific components would also be integrated into the refurbished vehicles. The upgrades have focused on several areas. First, the armor has been reinforced. This, in turn, made the MBT heavier. Now it weighs around 67 tonnes which is a value that can be compared to the latest variants of the Leopard 2A7V, or Challenger 3 MBTs. Secondly, the MBT has been fitted with new electronics, and power generators, making the headroom for future upgrades greater. The above bears a critical value, as means of communications, or BMS systems would be evolving over the course of the MBT’s lifecycle. The newly embedded architecture would mean that any changes within that scope would not entail a costly modernization of the base platform.

SEP v3 MBTs also feature new systems for diagnostics, APU under the armor, as well as the Ammunition Data Link solution. The latter makes it possible to connect the fire control system of the MBTs with the new ammunition types, the armor-piercing discarding sabot M829A4 round, and the XM1147 programmable multi-purpose round. The new Abrams MBTs have also been fitted with the CROWS-LP remotely operated weapons station. It is expected that more systems would be integrated on the v3 MBTs, as they would serve as a base platform for further enhancements.

We should also take into account the enhancements introduced in the former variant - SEP v2 - that, naturally, are integrated on the SEP v3 vehicles. This refers to the tank's fire control system with two gen. 2 thermal imaging cameras (for the gunner, and for the commander), providing the platform with hunter-killer capability. CROWS-LP, or Ammunition Data Link, have already been integrated on some of the SEP v2 vehicles through modifications. This means that the capabilities of some of the SEP v2 MBTs remain on par with the latest version.

The export variant may (but does not have to) differ from the US Army vehicles armour-wise. Even if the protection levels are lower than the ones in the case of the US configuration, the armour would still be a qualitative leap, if the Polish Ministry of Defence indeed procures the SEP v3 vehicles it is talking about. M1A2 SEP v3 is powered by the AGT-1500 gas turbine. On one hand, it consumes a lot of fuel - relatively, on the other, it is flexible, when it comes to the types of fuel that it may use.