The National Interest (USA): America should think about the sale of the tanks Poland

Remember one thing: the Polish armed forces may have to fight Russia without main battle tanks.

Poland has become an important factor in the defense plans of NATO. Located along the Eastern flank of the Alliance next to Russia, Poland from now on will continue to play for NATO the same role that West Germany played for decades in the containment of the Soviet Union. For security and peace of Europe, it is vital that Polish soldiers were as much as possible. Although Warsaw has already done a lot for the replacement of old equipment of the Soviet era on the modern Western system, it can and must do more. The same is true for the United States: they are already helping Poland, but we can and must do more. One of the steps that should be considered by both countries to assess the prospects of the sale to Poland of tanks M-1 “Abrams”.

The importance of Poland in the defense strategy of NATO is emphasized by the decision of the United States to strengthen its military presence in the country. For several years the US army holds in Poland on a rotating basis armored brigade combat team. In 2019, an agreement was signed to expand the military presence of the USA in Poland and the creation of infrastructure to support a full armored division plus support troops.

Warsaw held an impressive program to modernize its forces and, in particular, replacement of platforms and equipment of Soviet times, modern Western counterparts. Her fifteen-year plan provides for the purchase of new weapons worth $ 133 billion.

The main supplier of modern military equipment Poland — USA. That they supply the country with F-16 fighter jets, air defense batteries “Patriot” (Patriot) and a highly mobile rocket system, multiple rocket systems (HIMARS). Recently the two countries signed an agreement under which the Polish air force will receive 32 of the F-35.

But in need of modernization is one important part of the Polish armed forces — its fleet of main battle tanks. Over the last decade, the Polish army managed to buy 250 used tanks “Leopard” (Leopard), which require upgrading to higher standards. Moreover, the “leopards” are no longer manufactured.

To find a way to upgrade the remaining tanks Poland is extremely important. But the choice of Warsaw is limited. “Leopard 2” discontinued. To develop a new main battle tank of Germany and France, Poland is not allowed. The result Warsaw has to modernize the outdated tanks of the Soviet era.

Fortunately, there is an alternative. USA could provide Poland tanks M-1 Abrams. “Abrams” the U.S. army will now be held in the country on permanent duty. Highly mobile reactive system of volley fire and about 80 “Abrams” is already posted on the site. If Poland buys tanks “Abrams” and would exploit them, it will improve the interaction with the US army in exactly the same way as the purchase of the F-35 for the Polish air force.

By purchasing M-1 Abrams, the Polish military-industrial complex will be able to participate in the joint production, will have access to production technology and expand transatlantic cooperation. The Polish version of the “Abrams” M-1Pl can be customized for the needs and requirements of the Polish army at the base of the tank industry of this country, by making appropriate adjustments. Initially, components will be produced in a tank factory in Lima, Ohio, and sent to Poland for Assembly. In addition, the sale transaction in Poland “Abrams” will help keep jobs in American industry in States like Ohio, Michigan and Pennsylvania.

Warsaw also has the sense to think about buying the M-1 “Abrams”. The growing Russian military threat compels Poland to complete the modernization of its fleet of main battle tanks. In the absence of viable alternatives M-1 looks the best, if not the only candidate. In addition to the benefits for the Polish army, this step will support the tank industrial base in both countries.

President trump should offer a re-elected President of Poland to assess the prospects of such transaction. The assessment should take into account both military and industrial benefits.