U.S. State Department Approves Poland’s Request for Abrams Tanks

The Pentagon’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) notified Congress on February 17Β  that the U.S. State Department had approved a government-to-government Foreign Military Sales (FMS) request by Poland for M1A2 SEPv3 Abrams main battle tanks. The FMS proposal covers acquisition of 250 Abrams tanks, plus associated equipment (including counter-IED systems, machine guns, ordnance, spare parts, and training), 26 M88A2 Hercules combat recovery vehicles (CRVs), and 17 M1110 joint assault bridges. Altogether, the proposal comes with an estimated price tag of $6 billion.

Poland’s request for the most modern version of the Abrams tank comes at a time of increasing tensions between NATO and Russia over the latter’s threats against Ukraine. Poland joined the United Kingdom on February 17 in announcing a security pact with Ukraine.

The Polish government is funding a significant military modernization effort calling for spending of PLN524 billion ($132 billion) from 2021 through 2035. Part of this effort includes the expansion of the Polish Army’s mechanized capabilities.

At the center of this expansion is the upgrade of Poland’s existing inventory of surplus Leopard 2A4 and 2A5 variants retired from Germany’s Bundeswehr and acquired in separate batch purchases in 2001 and 2013. The Leopard fleet is being upgraded by a group of subsidiaries operated under the umbrella of local defense giant PGZ under a contract awarded in December 2015. Once completed, the upgrade program will bring the Leopard 2A4s up to the Leopard 2A7 (or so-called 2PL) standard.

Poland is also looking to replace its Cold War-era inventories of obsolete T-72 and PT-91 tanks with a new-generation main battle tank under a program called “Wilk,” or Wolf. The Abrams FMS request may prove to be the preferred solution, but more likely meets an urgent requirement that will ultimately prove a complementary acquisition in a larger tank fleet overhaul and update.

About Daniel Darling

Dan Darling is a senior analyst covering both the Europe and Asia-Pacific regions for Forecast International's International Military Markets group.

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