“To counter the most modern Russian T-14 Armata tanks”, the United States will sell 250 M1 Abrams main battle tanks to Poland

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Even though the situation in Eastern Europe continues to remain volatile due to the Ukraine crisis, the US State Department has approved a $6 billion sale of M1 Abrams tanks and other weapons to Poland.

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin announced on February 18 the planned sale of 250 Abrams tanks to Poland. Austin made the announcement in Warsaw, where Polish leaders expressed concern over the mobilization of thousands of Russian troops in Belarus.

Last month, leading Republicans in the U.S. Congress sought to accelerate the proposed sale of Abrams tanks amid tensions between Washington and Russia over Ukraine. The sale had been pending since last summer.

The first delivery of the tanks is expected in 2022, according to Polish officials, while the deal could take two years to complete, according to General Dynamics Land Systems, the maker of the M1A2SEPv3 Abrams tanks.

Following a meeting with Austin in October 2021, Polish Defense Minister Mariusz Baszczak said the former believed that “equipping the Polish Army with Abrams tanks is absolutely justified as it enhances interoperability between American and Polish forces.

The sale of Abrams tanks to Poland is another sign of a strong and deep defense partnership with the United States. It comes after the United States sent more than 5,000 additional troops and fighter jets to Poland amid the Ukraine crisis.

In recent years, Poland has acquired or intends to acquire a range of US defense systems, such as Raytheon’s Patriot air and missile defense system and Northrop Grumman’s integrated combat command system.

Why is Poland acquiring Abrams tanks?

More than a thousand Russian tanks have been stationed near the Ukrainian border in recent months. Meanwhile, the Ukrainian army has deployed its least advanced tanks.

Ukraine is not the only country concerned about Russian tanks. Polish ground combat vehicles have long been in need of renovation. To thwart a possible Russian assault, Poland has so far fielded obsolete Soviet-era tanks and old German Leopard tanks.

An M1A2 Abrams tank supporting Ali Al Salem Air Base in Kuwait. (via Twitter)

The central European country currently has Leopard 2A4 and Leopard 2A5 tanks and is looking to replace the Soviet-designed T-72 and PT-91, to match Russia’s modern T-14 Armata.

Last year, Polish Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak also said: “So we order the most modern tanks. Tanks available in the best-equipped version, battle-proven tanks, tanks built to counter the most modern Russian T-14 Armata tanks.

Earlier, South Korea also launched an initiative to sell its Black Panther K2 in Warsaw, and there was a time when that sale seemed to be on the cards. The deal, however, fell through. Poland is one of the most intransigent members of NATO when it comes to responding to Russia’s revisionist aspirations in Eastern Europe.

Poland, the cradle of the Solidarity trade union movement which contributed to the overthrow of communism in Central Europe, is extremely sensitive to Russian adventurism. Successive governments in Warsaw have firmly supported Kiev.

American Abrams versus Russian T-14 Armata

Russia’s Armata family of armored fighting vehicles fundamentally differs from the Soviet model of producing relatively simple, inexpensive, but specialized platforms. Additionally, the Armata is available in a variety of configurations, as was intended for the now defunct future combat system. program of the United States Army.

Rather than a simple design, the T-14 is equipped with a number of advanced technologies that have never been seen before in an operating tank anywhere else in the world.

T-14 Armata - Wikipedia
T-14 Armata – Wikipedia

The Armata’s unmanned turret clearly sets it apart from any other tank in service. The crew compartment is physically separated from the ammunition. Additionally, the tank features passive laminated armor as well as reactive armor and an active protection system.

Millimeter wave radars are supposed to be used in the active protection system to detect, track and intercept incoming fire. If all of these features activate, the Armata offers much better crew survivability than any previous Russian or Soviet tank.

However, it has some drawbacks. For situational awareness and targeting, the crew would only rely on their sensors. Generally, this is not a major inconvenience, but it can be a nuisance if the tank is damaged and its sensors or electronics are disabled.

While Armata certainly has the latest technology, the Abrams is a proven design that is constantly being updated. The new M1A3 is a bit lighter and more maneuverable.

The Abrams main battle tank carries a crew of four and has a manually loaded gun that can fire against armored vehicles, enemy personnel and even low-flying aircraft, according to its manufacturer, General Dynamics. Exact information about the survivability of the Abrams tank is not accessible for security reasons.

That said, since the Armata is a new design, it might experience some bumps in the future. Second, given the instability of the Russian economy, there remains uncertainty as to whether the T-14 can be mass-produced for domestic use as well as for export.

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