On Wednesday, Poland received the first shipment of M1 Abrams main battle tanks (MBTs) that were purchased by Warsaw for the Polish Army. The tanks arrived in the port city of Szczecin. A total of 366 Abrams MBTs will eventually be acquired by Poland as it attempts to bolster its military as a deterrent to Russia.
“The first tanks are already on Polish soil, it’s an important day for the Polish army,” Poland’s Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak told reporters.
Videos circulated on social media on Wednesday afternoon that showed the arrival of the first fourteen of the Abrams.
The shipment was part of a deal worth $1.4 billion for 116 M1A1 Abrams tanks that had been previously used by the U.S. Marine Corps. The service had operated tanks since the First World War, but as part of the Force Design 2030 initiative, it divested its tank fleet in 2021.
While some 400 of the USMC’s tanks were transferred to the U.S. Army – along with some tank crews – Poland also sought to acquire some “pre-owned” vehicles. These will now be part of a new Polish tank force.
“This year we will have more tanks and they will form a battalion of Abrams tanks,” Blaszczak added, further hailing the US-made Abrams as “the best tanks in the world.”
More M1 Abrams on the Way
Last year, Warsaw also purchased an additional 250 Abrams in a more modern M1A2 variant, and those MBTs are expected to be delivered in late 2024.
“Not every country can have such tanks, Poland is the first country outside the United States that will have Abrams tanks in the most modern version,” Blaszczak added.
Poland, a NATO and EU member as well as a staunch ally of Ukraine, announced in January that it plans to spend four percent of its gross domestic product on defense this year, the Defense Post reported.
South Korean Tanks Also Heading to Poland
The M1 Abrams aren’t the only modern MBTs that have arrived in the Eastern European country recently. In December, the first batch of K2 Black Panther MBTs and K9A1 Thunder self-propelled howitzers (SPHs) arrived at the Polish port city of Gdynia.
Polish President Andrzej Duda was joined by Blaszczak at an official ceremony that marked the arrival of the military hardware. While taking delivery, the Polish leader hailed the swift implementation of a $5.8 billion deal that had only been signed last summer. Per the terms of the deal, South Korean-based Hyundai Rotem will supply Poland with 180 K2 MBTs by 2025 – and the delivery will also include a training/logistics package along with ammunition for the tanks.
During the second stage of the framework agreement, Warsaw is expected to receive 820 K2PL tanks, which will be manufactured within a framework of the Polish-Korean industrial cooperation, while a broad transfer of technologies is expected to occur. South Korea has become an Asian arms powerhouse, and Poland has become one of its best customers.
The World’s Best Tanks in One Army
The K2 was developed utilizing indigenous technology only, and the first prototype was unveiled in 2007, while production commenced for the first 100 K2 tanks in 2014.
It is considered one of the most advanced MBTs in the world, outclassing any tanks in service with North Korea or even China. It relies on both an undisclosed modular composite armor and Explosive Reactive Armor (ERA) blocks, and according to reports can withstand direct hits to the front from a 120mm tank round. In addition, the K2 also is equipped with an active protection system as well as countermeasure systems that include NBC (nuclear-biological-chemical) protection.
With the arrival of these latest tanks, Poland will soon have the distinction of operating the German-made Leopard 2, the U.S. M1 Abrams, and the South Korean K2. The Polish Army could become a tank force like no other.
Author Experience and Expertise
A Senior Editor for 19FortyFive, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer. He has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,200 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, politics, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes and Clearance Jobs. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu.