The Army said Thursday it officially awarded General Dynamics Land Systems [GD] a $1.15 billion deal in late July to deliver 250 of the newest version of the Abrams tank to Poland.

Deliveries of the M1A2 System Enhancement Program version 3 (SEPv3) Abrams to Poland is expected to begin in January 2025, according to the Army, and follows the State Department’s decision to approve the foreign military sale in February.

Polish Defense Minister Mariusz Błaszczak gives a speech during the opening ceremony of the Abrams Tank Training Academy at Biedrusko, Poland, Aug. 10, 2022. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Spc. Hassani Ribera)

“NATO’s strength lies in its unity, which has never been greater than it is today,” Doug Bush, the Army’s top acquisition official, said in a statement. “This award is an example of the Army’s continuing work with our industry partners to increase production of critical military equipment capabilities to ensure we continue to meet the needs of our partners and allies.”

The $6 billion FMS deal with Poland approved earlier this year includes the 250 Abrams tanks, which Warsaw first requested in July 2021, as well as 26 M88A2 Hercules combat recovery vehicles, 17 Joint Assault Bridges, 250 AN/VLQ-12 CREW Duke counter-IED systems, 276 M2 .50 caliber machine guns, 500 M240C 7.62mm machine guns and 15 AGT1500 gas turbine engines (Defense Daily, Feb. 18).

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin first announced the Abrams tank deal as Russia was continuing to amass troops along the border with Ukraine, and cited the deal as key to bolstering the military capability of its NATO ally Poland.

“Delivery of the tanks will further improve the U.S. Army’s interoperability with the Polish armed forces and will significantly boost the nations’ combined military deterrence strength,” the Army said on Thursday.

GD Land Systems said the new M1A2 SEPv3 configuration of the Abrams features “technological advancements in communications, fire control and lethality, reliability, sustainment and fuel efficiency, plus upgraded armor.”

“We are pleased to have been chosen to provide this critical armored capability to our allies in Poland,” Chris Brown, GD Land Systems’ vice president of global strategy and international business development, said in a statement. “The M1A2 SEPv3 Abrams is the most advanced main battle tank in the world, and we look forward to getting it into the hands of Polish soldiers.”

The Army previously announced on Aug. 10 it had officially opened the Abrams Tank Training Academy in Poland, with the service noting on Thursday it has already begun training Polish soldiers on 28 Abrams tanks delivered to the country in July. 

During a House Armed Services Tactical Air and Land Forces Subcommittee hearing, the panel pressed Bush on the Army’s potential for ramping up production capacity at the Lima Army Tank Plant in Ohio to move up the delivery timeline of the Abrams tanks to Poland (Defense Daily, May 17). 

“In terms of the industrial base itself, it’s great to see the plant at 15 tanks a month. I remember when we were fighting to keep it at one tank a month. But I know it can do more and I know the workforce can do more,” Bush said in response. “I think if the Army continues to invest, and I know we got great support from Congress last year, thank you for that, that’ll help the industrial base broadly. Simply put, the more tanks going through there, the healthier the industrial base that feeds it.”

Bush said a potential option to speed up the tank deliveries could include prioritizing getting the new Abrams to Poland over fielding to the U.S. Army or shipments for other allies and partners.

“Those are dials we can turn. The Army is normally not the one to decide that. That would normally be [the Office of the Secretary of Defense]. But that is one option, sir,” Bush added.