Poland has signed a contract for the purchase of 250 Abrams M1A2 SEPv3 tanks from the United States.
The deal was signed on Tuesday by Mariusz Błaszczak, the Polish defence minister.
Błaszczak described the signing, which took place in the presence of US Ambassador to Poland Mark Brzezinski, as “a very important day in the history of Polish-US cooperation,” adding that strengthening the Polish Army was a task the government had “carried out consistently in order to deter an aggressor.”
“I thank all those who have contributed to the decision being taken by the Polish government in a relatively short time, (which has) materialised today in the form of a signed contract,” the defence minister said, addressing specific thanks to US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin.
The US Congress approved the sale of the tanks, the latest version of the Abrams, in early March, the green light having been given by the State Department in mid-February
Ambassador Brzezinski said the Abrams would give Poland great power, but he said the deal was more than just a contract, it was the start of a deeper partnership between Poland’s and America’s armed forces.
He said Polish-US bilateral relations had never been stronger and that the signing represented a further example of the two countries’ united front, something made evident by recent visits from high-ranking American dignitaries including Vice-President Kamala Harris, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin.
Brzezinski added that Poland had shown it was engaged in the strengthening of the whole Nato alliance by being the first European country to acquire Abrams tanks.
Błaszczak said reinforcement of the Polish armed forces was particularly important and that the new tanks would go to the 18th Mechanised Division.
“The task of these tanks, which come as a consequence of the Polish government’s strengthening the Polish Army, is to deter a possible aggressor,” Błaszczak said. “We are all aware of what is happening beyond our eastern border.”
Błaszczak said in March the tanks would be deployed to eastern Poland.
The minister said the value of the contract was USD 4.74 billion. It finalises a defence ministry decision from July last year to buy the tanks. The first 28 will go to the Polish Army in 2022 for training purposes with the remainder scheduled for delivery in 2026. The tanks come with a logistics and training package, as well as simulators.
General Maciej Jabłoński, who will oversee the introduction of the Abrams tanks to Poland’s armed forces, said training for future Abrams crews will begin towards the end of April.
He added that a special training school for the crews will open in June.
The tanks are produced by the General Dynamics company at its factory in Lima, Ohio.
Source: With Agencies