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Poland Is Buying US Abrams Tanks to Face Russia on Its Eastern Border

By Sebastien Robin - July 16, 2021

Poland already operates German-built Leopard 2 main battle tanks with broadly similar performance to the Abrams, so it’s somewhat surprising Poland opted to introduce a new tank type with all the attendant logistical burdens and financial costs.

USA M-1 Tank

Polish Prime Minister announced on July 14 that Warsaw was procuring 250 M1A2 Abrams main battle tanks from the United States—specifically the latest SEP V3 variant, which began entering deliveries to U.S. Army units last year.

The purchase bundled with logistics and training packages, as well as ammunition and upgraded infrastructure to handle the heavy vehicles, reportedly totals a whopping $6 billion dollars (23.3 billion zloty), which will be paid outside of the regular defense budget. The buy comes at the expense of offers to purchase Leopard 2 or K2 Black Panther main battle tanks from Germany and South Korea.

The forty-year-old M1 tank established a superb reputation devastating Iraq’s Soviet-built tanks in the Persian Gulf War and storming the streets of Baghdad in “Thunder Run” operations in 2003, bolstered by its powerful 120-millimeter gun, advanced optical and thermal sights, fifteen hundred horsepower engine, and formidable Chobham composite armor. On the downside, the Abrams is heavy to a bridge-breaking degree, a bit of a gas hog, and has increased in weight as it received modifications to patch over its vulnerabilities in urban war zones.

The latest seventy-three-ton SEP V3 model integrates an auxiliary power unit so the tank can power its systems without running its motor, new computers, a Common Remotely Operated Weapon Station (CROWS) .50-caliber machine gun, a data-link allowing it to program Advanced Multi-Purpose shells to airburst, an anti-Improvised Explosive Device (IED) wireless jammer, and upgrades to the armor package.

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