WARSAW, Poland — Lithuania’s chief of defense, Lt. Gen. Valdemaras Rupšys, has announced the country’s military aims to acquire up to 54 tanks to strengthen the combat capacities of the Lithuanian land forces.

“We are proposing to transform one mechanized infantry battalion into a tank battalion,” Rupšys said, as quoted by local broadcaster TV3.

The defense chief said that relevant recommendations had been submitted to the Lithuanian government as part of the nation’s efforts to create a division-sized unit within its armed forces. The unit will operate infantry fighting vehicles and tanks, among others.

The latest declaration comes as numerous Eastern European allies are pursuing tank acquisitions in the aftermath of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

In April 2022, Poland signed a deal worth about $4.75 billion to purchase 250 M1A2 Abrams SEPv3 tanks from the United States. In January 2023, the country’s Ministry of National Defence inked a second contract, valued at some $1.4 billion, to purchase 116 second-hand M1A1 Abrams from the U.S. In addition to the Abrams, last year, Warsaw ordered some 1,000 K2 Black Panther tanks, of which 180 units will be manufactured by Hyundai Rotem in South Korea, and a further 820 tanks in the K2PL variant are to be jointly made by the two countries’ defense sectors.

In Romania, the Ministry of National Defence aims to buy a battalion’s worth of Abrams from the U.S. Bucharest could acquire as many as 54 units to replace some of its Army’s outdated Soviet-times tanks.

Meanwhile, the Czech Republic is advancing plans to purchase new Leopard 2A7+ tanks from Germany. Last May, Czech Defence Minister Jana Černochová suggested the nation could buy up to 50 tracked vehicles for its land forces.

Jaroslaw Adamowski is the Poland correspondent for Defense News.

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