Poland to possibly buy M1A2 Abrams tanks to replace its T-72 PT-91 MBTs

According to Jaroslaw Adamowski in Defense News, Poland’s Defence Ministry is reportedly preparing to buy about 250 M1 Abrams tanks from the United States, two months after it announced plans to buy 24 Turkish Bayraktar TB2 drones. In fact, the Abrams is the third existing design offered in the Wilk programme, alongside the Leopard 2 and the South Korean K2. The Wilk programme is aimed at selecting a replacement for the T-72/PT-91 MBTs.
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U.S. soldiers from 3rd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division prepare test-fire with the new M1A2 SEPV3 Abrams Main Battle Tank, Fort Hood, Texas, August 18, 2020. (Picture source U.S. army)

Two sources close to the deal told Polish news site Gazeta.pl that the ministry is negotiating the potential contract terms. : “It has been rumored that something like this [acquisition] is possible in the framework of the Wilk new generation MBT programme. A spokesman for the Armament Inspectorate, Major Krzysztof Płatek, told Defence 24 that the “analytical-conceptual phase for the task pertaining to the acquisition of the new generation MBTs, namely the WILK programme, has not been accomplished yet. (...) The analytical-conceptual phase covers a broad range of existing or prospective designs from all around the world”. Płatek added that “talks carried out during the market analysis involved the following entities: Ośrodek Badawczo-Rozwojowy Urządzeń Mechanicznych „OBRUM” Sp. z o.o., Krauss-Maffei Wegmann Gmbh & Co. KG, represented by the WZM S.A. facility based in Poznań, Rheinmetall Defence, represented by Rheinmetall Defence Polska Sp. z o.o., Hyundai Rotem Co., represented by H.Cegielski Poznań S.A., the US Army, BAE Systems Hägglunds AB, and General Dynamics European Land Systems”.

Asked about the potential tank acquisition and its status, a spokesperson for the Polish Defence Ministry told Defense News that “as part of the ongoing analyses related to the operational needs, we have identified the necessity to provide [Polish] armored military units with modern tanks that would comply with the requirements of the modern battlefield. We are currently performing analytical-conceptual work with the aim to define the possibilities of securing these capacities based on the available technical solutions that are proposed [to Poland] by potential suppliers,” the spokesperson said. However, Defense News reports that details are already being worked out with GD Land Systems, although a final decision has not yet been taken.

The Polish Armed Forces are reportedly interested in acquiring up to 250 tanks in the M1A2 SEPv3 variant and a further dozen tracked vehicles for training under a deal estimated to be worth between 11 billion zloty (U.S. $2.9 billion) and 19 billion zloty (U.S. $5 billion). The potential acquisition would significantly expand Poland’s modern tank capacities. In the latest additions to its tank fleet, in 2002, the country secured 128 Leopard 2A4 tanks from the German military. In 2013, the Defence Ministry signed a deal to acquire a further 119 A4 and A5 tanks from Germany.

Poland has been readying to purchase a new tracked vehicle platform to replace the country’s outdated Soviet-designed T-72 and PT-91 tanks. In 2019, Warsaw declared interest in the European main battle tank project, an initiative spearheaded by a French-German tandem. But to date, these declarations have not been followed by any binding decision.