WASHINGTON — Poland has sent an official request to buy American-made rocket launchers after announcing in July that the country planned to expedite its acquisition of the systems.
According to an announcement on Poland’s ministry of defense website posted Oct. 19, the country has provided the U.S. a letter of request for one M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System, or HIMARS, division as part of what it’s calling its HOMAR program.
Poland had planned to buy the Lockheed Martin-made systems since 2015, but its original plans to share in production work for the HIMARS systems through PGZ, its state-run defense group, proved complex and ran up against several walls in the negotiation process.
The country announced this summer that it had decided to go the direct Foreign Military Sales route and buy the HIMARS systems from the U.S. government, much like Romania did earlier this year to speed up the acquisition and also to lower the cost of the purchase.
Romania is the first eastern European country to buy HIMARS. Poland would become the second. Both countries, as well as the rest of eastern Europe, are working to beef up their air defenses to deter what they perceive as Russian aggression in the region following the country’s annexation of Crimea.
The U.S. State Department cleared a possible $250 million sale in November 2017 for 56 HIMARS launchers.
Lockheed announced several years ago it will restarting its HIMARS production line to build new launchers for the United Arab Emirates, but since then the company has seen a growing interest, particularly in eastern Europe, as well as an interest to incorporate the launchers into plans to extend cannon artillery ranges for the U.S. Army.
HIMARS uses Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System munitions and Army Tactical Missile System guided ammunition, capable of targeting up to 300 kilometers.
The Polish Ministry of Defence noted in its announcement that the HIMARS system will allow for deep rocket strikes, which is an extremely important element of the implementation of the modernization plans for the Polish Armed Forces.
Poland also plans to buy missiles as well as a logistics and training package to go along with the rocket launchers.
The next step, according to the ministry is to negotiate a draft agreement with the U.S. government.
Poland also entered into an official agreement this year to buy Patriot air-and-missile defense systems from the U.S. in a more complex deal to include the Integrated Air and Missile Defense Battle Command System, which is not yet fielded by the U.S. Army.
Jen Judson is an award-winning journalist covering land warfare for Defense News. She has also worked for Politico and Inside Defense. She holds a Master of Science degree in journalism from Boston University and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Kenyon College.