After top Republicans, Rep. Mike Rogers, Rep. Mike Turner, and Rep. Lisa McClaine lobbied to have Poland’s proposed sale of 250 M1A2 SEPv3 Abrams Main Battle tanks to NATO ally Poland accelerated after it had stagnated last summer, the State Department has now approved its potential sale to Poland amid an escalating crisis between Ukraine and Russia.
The sale comes after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky had urged its allies to put further economic sanctions and send more weapons (and possibly troops) to the country in the case it is invaded by Russian forces. Poland, being a NATO member and one being closest to Ukraine, can be extremely instrumental in responding to a potential attack by the Russian military if the country chooses to do so.
The Foreign Military Sale (FSA) outlined that the totality of the sale would have an estimated cost of $6 billion, with the General Dynamics Land Systems-manufactured M1A2 SEPV3 Abrams Main Battle tanks as the focal point of the sale. However, this is not the only equipment the Polish Government may purchase. The FSA stated that Poland has requested to procure 250 M1A2 SEPV3 Abrams Main Battle tanks, 26 M88A2 HERCULES Combat Recovery vehicles, and 17 M1110 joint assault bridges.
The more advanced M1 Abrams tank variant, the M1A2 SEPV3, was said to be the most modernized version of the tank as it had undergone upgrades to its communication, energy, and weapons systems. It was said to be equipped with the Trophy Active Protection System, stronger armor, a new high-resolution display for gunners, a CREW system, an auxiliary power unit, an increased AMPs alternator, and long-range, high-resolution thermal sights, providing vital survivability and added-lethality on the battlefield—upgrades it had learned the hard way during Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Together with these vehicles and systems, it was also said that Poland would be buying the following ammunition and systems, one being 250 AN/VLQ-12 CREW Duke counter-IED systems. It is a vehicle-mounted system that has the capacity to protect troops and vehicles against roadside bombs.
The sale package also includes the Common Remote Operated Weapons Station Low Profile (CROWS-LP), which protects gunners and gives them more accuracy when going up against enemy forces, 276 M2 .50 caliber machine guns, 500 M240C 7.62mm machine guns, 15 AGT1500 gas turbine engines, 9,168 120mm M865 Target Practice, Cone Stabilized, Discarding Sabot – Tracer (TPCSDS-T) cartridges, 4,592 120mm M1002 Target Practice Multipurpose Tracer (TPMP-T) projectiles, 13,920 120mm M830A1 High Explosive Anti-Tank (HEAT) TP-T cartridges, and 6,960 120mm XM1147 High Explosive multipurpose tracers.
Communications and repair equipment was also included in the sale, such as communications equipment, GPS receivers, ammunition, spare and repair parts, Special Tools and Test Equipment (STTE), along with trainers, training equipment, and other related technical and logistical support elements necessary for the operation of said vehicles, systems, and weapons.
Said sale will have General Dynamics Land Systems, Sterling Heights, BAE Systems, Leonardo DRS, Honeywell Aerospace, Raytheon Company, and Lockheed Martin and principal contractors and would take up to 5 years for Polish forces to receive support equipment and training to operate said weapons.
It can be remembered that top Republicans had originally lobbied for the fast-tracking of the sale as it would send an important message to Russia and enhance further interoperability with US and NATO forces, particularly strengthening the Polish forces in the case of an attack. Currently, Poland uses Leopard 2A4, Leopard 2A5 tanks, and the Soviet-made T-72 and PT-91 tanks. The newer M1A2 SEPV3 Abrams Main Battle tanks would definitely be helping the Polish forces to have an answer against the Russian T-14 Armata tanks.
“So we are ordering the most modern tanks. Tanks available in the best-equipped version, tanks that are combat-proven, tanks which were constructed to counter the most modern Russian T-14 Armata tanks,” said Defense Mariusz Błaszczak in 2021.
According to the press release, the sale would “support the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to improve the security of a NATO ally that is a force for political stability and economic progress in Europe.” Furthermore, it was said to be integral for Poland’s capacity to defend itself in current and future threats by deterring adversaries and participating in NATO operations that use the same equipment.
With its geographical position in mind, it is of tremendous importance that Poland amply arms itself with the best weapons it can as it shares a border with Kremlin-ally Belarus, who have been consistently conducting military exercises with Russia throughout the years.
“This is a powerful system for the Poles to have, given their geographic location and their historical experience, particularly with folks, you know, streaming west,” said General Dynamics Chief Executive Phebe Novakovic in 2021.