WASHINGTON — The US Army has officially inked the long-awaited contract with General Dynamics Land Systems to send the most advanced version of its Abrams tank to Poland, the service announced today.
GDLS, the prime Abrams manufacturer, will deliver 250 M1A2 System Enhancement Program version 3 (SEPv3) Abrams tanks to the Polish army under a $1.15 billion contract, capping off a year-long push by the NATO ally to buy the tanks. The announcement comes as the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which borders Poland to the southeast, enters its sixth month.
“NATO’s strength lies in its unity, which has never been greater than it is today,” said Doug Bush, assistant secretary of the Army for acquisition, logistics and technology, in a statement. “This award is an example of the Army’s continuing work with our industry partners to increase production of critical military equipment capabilities to ensure we continue to meet the needs of our partners and allies.”
The contract was signed in late July, according to the Army announcement, after Poland formally requested the tanks in July 2021. Delivery of the SEPv3 Abrams tanks will begin in January 2025, the release states. The Polish army intends to integrate the Abrams into its 18th Mechanized Division, according to an Aug. 10 Army announcement.
“We are pleased to have been chosen to provide this critical armored capability to our allies in Poland,” Chris Brown, vice president of global strategy and international business development at General Dynamics Land Systems, said in a company statement. “The M1A2 SEPv3 Abrams is the most advanced main battle tank in the world, and we look forward to getting it into the hands of Polish Soldiers.”
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SEPv3 Abrams includes technological improvements to the tank’s communications, lethality, sustainment, reliability, fuel efficiency and survivability, including upgraded armor.
“Delivery of the tanks will further improve the U.S. Army’s interoperability with the Polish armed forces and will significantly boost the nations’ combined military deterrence strength,” the Army press release said.
The State Department cleared the sale to Poland in February, just days ahead of Russia’s invasion of its neighbor, as part of a larger $6 billion package that included counter-IED systems, hundreds of machine guns, 26 M88 recovery vehicles, 17 Joint Assault Bridges and other military systems. State came under pressure from congressional Republicans to approve the deal in the midst of Russia’s military build-up on the Ukrainian border, arguing that strengthening the NATO ally with the US’s most advanced tank would send a message to Russia.
The US Army started an Abrams Tank Training Academy on Aug. 10 in Poznan, Poland, according to the Aug. 10 announcement, as part of a new US-Polish Abrams Partnership Program. The academy is led by Program Executive Office Ground Combat Systems and started training Polish soldiers in July.
The US-Polish Abrams Partnership Program will give Polish soldiers additional Abrams training, both on the platform itself and tactics. Today’s Army announcement stated that the service had delivered 28 Abrams tanks to Poland in July and had begun training the Poles.
During a press conference with the Polish defense minister in February, US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin predicted that Russia’s aggression would lead to an increasingly strengthened NATO.
“What Mr. Putin did not want to see happen was a stronger NATO on his flank,” Austin said then. “That’s exactly what he will see going forward.”