At the insistent request of Warsaw, which the Polish government explained by the already entrenched habit of the high risk of intervention from Russia, the deliveries will be carried out in a short time. The first tanks will arrive in Poland before the end of this year.
In fact, last February, the US State Department approved the sale of various weapons to Poland in the amount of about six billion dollars. In addition to tanks, the list of acquisitions includes another 250 AN / VLQ-12 CREW Duke electronic warfare systems, 26 M88A2 Hercules combat recovery vehicles to carry wrecked tanks, 17 M1110 assault bridges, as well as all kinds of related equipment and ammunition. The approved set of weapons is extremely specific and suggests some thoughts, but more on that later.
The M1 Abrams, a 62-ton US main battle tank, has been in production since 1980. Since then it has undergone several upgrades. In the SEPv3 variant, the armor has been improved, new thermal imaging devices have been installed on the commander’s and gunner’s sights, the communication system has been updated, which allows, among other things, to interact with American HIMARS multiple rocket launchers and fifth-generation F-35 aircraft.
By the way, Warsaw ordered American F-35 Lightning II multirole fighters back in 2020 in the amount of 32 units for $4.6 billion. And in October last year, she submitted an official request for HIMARS to the United States and soon received State Department approval for this deal. We are talking about 20 M142 combat vehicles of the HIMARS missile system, various missiles for them with a radius of destruction from 70 to 300 kilometers, as well as a complex of related equipment and equipment. The deal is valued at $414 million, with deliveries to be completed by 2023.
The tanks, which will be delivered to the Polish army, fire the new M1147 programmable munitions created by Northrop Grumman. These shots will immediately replace four types of ammunition used on the tank. The M1147 can be configured to engage infantry, lightly armored targets and destroy concrete reinforced fortifications at a distance of up to two kilometers. Thus, M830 HEAT shells, M830 A1 universal anti-tank shells, M1028 anti-personnel shells, and M908 concrete-blasting high-explosive shells will be removed from the tank "weapon cellar". The vacated space will be filled with new ammunition, the warhead of which has increased power, and is also equipped with a tracer element.
The new tanks will go into service with four armored battalions of the Polish army and will mark a new stage in the development of the Polish armed forces. This stage has logistical and much more significant military-political aspects.
Until 2006, Poland was engaged in building up military muscles at the expense of second-hand Western and Soviet weapons produced at Polish enterprises. In 2002-2003, Poland received almost free of charge 128 used German Leopard 2A4 tanks. In 2014-2015, another 14 Leopard 2A4 tanks and 91 Leopard 2A5 tanks, also decommissioned from the German ground forces. The total number of the Polish tank armada was increased to 808 pieces.
In 2004, Germany handed over to Poland at a symbolic price of one euro per aircraft 22 MiG-29 fighters, which the German Luftwaffe inherited from the former GDR. The Polish navy was replenished in 2002-2004 with four Norwegian Kobben-class submarines built in Germany in the 1960s. In 2000 and 2002, two decommissioned Oliver Hazard Perry-class missile frigates, built in 1980, arrived from the United States.
And then the year 2006 came and the stage of modernization began - they began to acquire new weapons systems. Warsaw signed a contract with the United States for the supply of 48 F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter-bombers. The peculiarity of these aircraft is that they are capable of carrying American M61 atomic bombs.
For several years now, Warsaw has wanted to join the club of countries that have atomic weapons on their territory. Its presence gives NATO a say in determining the bloc's nuclear policy. When in Germany, on whose territory the M61s were stored, there was a strong movement for the removal of bombs, Warsaw even offered to move the arsenal to its territory. Having bought the planes, Poland is already ready to host an additional nuclear cellar.
This year, the modernization of the Polish army will continue - Warsaw will receive the first Patriot anti-aircraft missile systems and Turkish Bayraktar drones. In total, several years ago, Warsaw planned to spend about $43 billion on the purchase and modernization of weapons and military equipment. It looks like the budget will now be significantly exceeded.
The buildup of military power, and with a clear emphasis on offensive weapons, remember the list approved by the State Department, has a very specific goal. According to the plans of Polish politicians, Warsaw should regain the role of a leading regional power that can dictate its own rules, at least to the surrounding countries.
These sovereign dreams of Poland are more than one century old. They have been secretly groomed since the Commonwealth ceased to exist in 1795, and Poland found itself on the margins of European politics. The geopolitical dreams of the Poles can be traced even during the Warsaw Pact. They turned a blind eye to them, especially since Poland of those times rightly considered Germany to be its first enemy.
Even then, with the assistance of the USSR, Poland created an army that was concentrated on the western borders of the country against the FRG. Today, the Polish army has more than three times more tanks than the German one, 1.1 times more armored fighting vehicles, almost 3.5 times more artillery pieces, multiple launch rocket systems and mortars. There are as many submarines in the Polish Navy as there are in the German one.
The only thing in which the Polish armed forces were inferior to the Western European allies was in quality. Today, Warsaw is actively eliminating this shortcoming. With the new Abrams, Poland will increase its tank power to more than a thousand pieces. Such a number of strike weapons, which are currently redeployed to the eastern borders of Poland, is excessive for ensuring security.