SIMI VALLEY, CA -- The Defense Department is considering a request from Poland to buy as many as 250 Abrams tanks, a deal likely worth more than $3 billion that would provide stability for the heavy armor production line and deliver an important capability to a European ally near Russia -- a package a senior DOD official involved in the process views very favorably.
“Poland has come to the department and expressed its interest in buying a pretty large number of Abrams tanks,” the senior official told reporters Dec. 4 on the sidelines of the Reagan National Defense Forum here. “They're a staunch NATO ally. They are very, very conscious of the Russian threat. . . . They have asked for 250.”
This development comes as Russia is reportedly staging tens of thousands of troops on the border of Ukraine, sparking concern about an invasion. Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville said he is “very, very concerned” about the Russian buildup on the Ukrainian border.
“That gives a lot of options to the Russians,” McConville said during a panel discussion during the conference. “I’m not quite sure what they’re going to do, but to me, that is a terrible impact on the ability and security of our European friends.”
Poland would likely use the new armored vehicles to increase its ability to quickly mobilize and defends its border and the U.S. sale would demonstrate ongoing support from Washington to European defense against the former Soviet threat.
“My own view is it would be quite desirable to have them have the same kind of tanks that we have or something close,” said the defense official of the potential tank sale to Poland. “So, we're in the process of working through the details of what that might look like, what their options are. But I'm hopeful that we'll be able to sort of move forward into the next part of the discussion with them in the next few months.”
General Dynamics Land Systems is prime contractor for the M1 Abrams tank.
The Army is upgrading its fleet to the M1A2 SEPv3 configuration that includes many improvements to enhance tank survivability, lethality and mobility while improving overall system reliability and durability.
It is not clear what variant of the tank the U.S. government would allow Poland to buy.
In 2014, the State Department approved a sale of 175 M1A1 Abrams tanks and associated equipment to Iraq for $2.4 billion. That works out to a unit cost of $13.7 million. At that price tag for -- which is for the most basic variant of the Abrams -- the number of tanks Poland is looking to order would cost $3.4 billion.