At a time when Ukraine is requesting the United States for long-range weapons like the ATACMS to battle Russia, neighboring Poland may soon be getting a $10 billion worth shipment of long-range missiles, rockets, and launchers.
The sale of long-range missiles, rockets, and launchers to Poland in a contract worth up to $10 billion have received approval from the US State Department, the Pentagon announced on February 7.
To combat Russia’s incursion, Poland has been on a spending spree to modernize its military while also shipping existing weapons from its inventory to Ukraine.
The $10 billion package approved by the US Department of Defense includes 18 HIMARS rocket launchers and ammo for the extremely precise mobile platform.
The High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) have proved their prowess on the battlefield, destroying Russian warehouses and command posts. They have since been one of the most sought-after weapon systems in the region.
The Defense Security Cooperation Agency notified that the list also includes 461 M30A2 Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System Alternative Warhead (GMLRS-AW) pods with Insensitive Munitions Propulsion System (IMPS), 521 M31A2 Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System Unitary (GMLRS-U) pods with Insensitive Munitions Propulsion System (IMPS), and 532 XM403 Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System Extended Range Alternative Warhead (GMLRS-ER AW).
According to a statement from the Defense Department, the package will also include 45 ATACMS long-range missile systems. Further, two people knowledgeable of the situation told the media that Congress had been informed of the proposed agreement under the Foreign Military Sales program.
This sale is significant as Ukrainian officials have long been pleading with the Biden administration for the ATACMS, which they believe aid the troops in striking targets deep inside Russia and achieve decisive combat wins.
However, despite intense lobbying by Kyiv, the US stopped short of announcing the system in the latest package that included long-range precision bombs instead.
Earlier, Colin Kahl, the US Deputy Secretary of Defense for Political Affairs, highlighted why ATACMS might not be the weapon Ukraine needed. The Pentagon is confident that the Armed Forces of Ukraine can accomplish its objectives without ATACMS missiles.
Since the US has rebuffed Ukraine’s request for ATACMS for fear of escalation by Russia, Poland would not be allowed to transfer this system to Kyiv. The sale of ATACMS to Warsaw is, thus, for the country to secure its defenses.
“The proposed sale will improve Poland’s military goals of updating capability while further enhancing interoperability with the United States and other allies,” the Pentagon said.
Poland’s Military Shopping List Is Expanding
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, launched almost a year ago in February 2022, triggered a Europe-wide military modernization. Triggered by Russian hostilities and the mistrust between the two countries, Poland stepped up to bolster its combat capabilities.
Poland is constructing what is currently on course to become the largest land force in the European Union, giving stiff competition to Germany, which has been the NATO logistical hub so far. Warsaw that it would increase its defense budget from 2.4 percent of GDP to 5 percent.
The Defense minister for Poland, Mariusz Baszczak, promised in July last year that his nation would possess “the most powerful land troops in Europe.” Consequently, things are swiftly moving in that direction.
Poland inked an agreement to buy 250 Abrams tanks from the United States for 23 billion zlotych (€4.9 billion) last year, replacing the 240 Soviet-era tanks given to Ukraine. The US has also granted Ukraine’s request for the Abrams tank, which is expected to see the operation in the war-torn country by spring this year.
In addition to having American F-16 fighter jets in its air force, Warsaw negotiated a $4.6 billion deal for 32 F-35 fighter jets in 2020 and is well on its way to modernizing its Air force with the most advanced stealth fighter jets in the world.
Not just that, it has doubled its previous Patriot air defense system purchase and leased MQ-9 Reapers.
In May 2022, Poland requested an additional 500 HIMARS launchers from the United States, but according to Polish media, Lockheed Martin Corp (LMT.N) said it was possible to offer around 200. If all goes well and production is ramped up, Poland may start receiving these in the foreseeable future.
Poland has also significantly bolstered its capability to mount a ground offensive. Towards that end, several deals have been signed with the South Korean defense industry, including 180 K2 Black Panther tanks, 200 K9 Thunder howitzers, 48 FA-50 light attack aircraft, and 218 K239 Chunmoo rocket launchers.
Earlier, while finalizing a deal for Chunmoo launchers, the Polish Defense Minister said, “Chunmoo have very similar characteristics to the HIMARS. It is a very good weapon and equipment, and I think that our joint Polish-Korean success is that the first Chunmoo squadron will be delivered to Poland next year.”
With the procurement of additional launchers from the United States, Poland’s army would likely become a force to reckon with.
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