Update on Poland’s Abrams Procurement

Poland is set on the procurement of M1A2 SEPv3 Abrams main battle tank. From the declaration of will to obtain the tanks to the sale of new MBTs, the Polish government boasts about its success and rapid delivery of the tanks. However, there might be some catches and declarations for public consumption aren’t going to speed up the difficult and time-consuming process ahead.

In mid-July, the Minister of National Defense, Mariusz Blaszczak, announced the procurement of 250 new Abrams tanks from the US with the delivery ambitiously scheduled for 2022. A grand press conference full of assurances about this decision was a breakthrough, as the Polish tank fleet fell into a slow decline. The following day after the press conference the official request for the tanks was made. This contradicted the Polish government’s announcement of the procurement success. However, by mid-October, the Senate Armed Forces Committee stated that Poland should receive a positive answer to their LoR by the end of 2021.

Blaszczak visits recent completed garages for two battalions of Leopard 2 at Wesola

In October of last year General Dynamics Land Systems’ chief executive, Phebe Novakovic, estimated that the pending foreign military sale of the new MBTs to Poland wouls go through in roughly two years. This is considerably later than publicly suggested by the Polish government.

Despite this on 1 December 2021, the Polish Armed Forces General Command announced that 28 tanks will be delivered by the end of 2022. Meanwhile Polish military personnel made a visit to the US 1st Cavalry Division in Late 2021. Despite finalisation of the procurement still pending it was reported that the first crewmen were in the US to train with Abrams tanks at Orchard Combat Training Center, Idaho.

According to Major General Maciej Jabłoński the decision surrounding the training of the future Polish Abrams crews have been made quite recently. The first stage is going to take place at the Center of Land Forces Training (CSWL) in Poznań, while the Abrams training facility is going to be created in Nowa Dęba. However, the first instruction will come from the US who, under the Foreign Military Sale agreement it is hoped, are going to send training and maintenance teams to Poland.

Polish Army visiting the US in October 2021 (Ministry of National Defence)

The Military Mechanical Facility in Poznań (WZM) also declares its readiness to maintain the fleet of M1A2s. In an interview with Defense 24 WZM CEO, Elżbieta Wawrzynkiewicz admitted that although the sale of the new MBTs has not yet been approved, the company is already in preparations to create infrastructure for the new American tanks. At the moment WZM is responsible for the maintenance of the Polish Leopard 2A5 tanks, while Bumar-Łabędy takes care of Leopard 2A4 fleet which is currently being modernized to the Leopard 2PL standard.

In comparison Australia’s Defence Ministry announced on 10 January, that it will be purchasing 75 of the same M1A2 SEPv3 variants of the Abrams for the Australian Army. Deliveries of the new Australian Abrams are currently planned to start in 2024. A more conservative estimate compared to Poland’s.

Poland continues to awaits the approval of the US Congress to purchase the tanks but are increasingly preparing the infrastructure and doctrine needed for when the sale is confirmed and the first of the projected 250 tanks, and support vehicles, begin to arrive. When that will be remains to be seen but it currently seems that the Polish government’s initial timeline may have been somewhat optimistic.