WASHINGTON — Poland announced earlier this year it planned to buy 250 M1A2 Abrams SEPv3 tanks, with hopes deliveries would be made as early as 2022, but General Dynamics chief executive Phebe Novakovic said Wednesday the foreign military sale could go through in roughly two years.
“This is a powerful system for the Poles to have, given their geographic location and their historical experience, particularly with folks, you know, streaming west,” she said during an Oct. 27 call with analysts. “This is an FMS sale; we’re looking at somewhere ... maybe in the two-year period.”
Novakovic added the company sees “increased demand signals” from the Czech Republic, Romania, Denmark, Switzerland and Spain as well as the Middle East.
The demand for combat vehicles remain stable in the U.S., Novakovic noted, with orders for a brigade’s worth of Abrams tanks and a half a brigade of Stryker combat vehicles per year.
General Dynamics Land Systems is also hoping to win a contract to build the Mobile Protected Firepower (MPF) system in the near term. GDLS is competing against BAE Systems for the deal.
Mariusz Błaszczak, Poland’s defense minister, in July said Poland wanted to order the “most modern tanks. Tanks available in the best equipped version, tanks that are combat proven, tanks which were constructed to counter the most modern Russian T-14 Armata tanks.”
The SEPv3 variant of the Abrams tank weighs 73.6 tons and can travel at 42 mph. According to the U.S. Army’s Acquisition Support Center, the development of a SEPv4 variant is ongoing through fiscal 2023.
Brigades in Poland are currently equipped with the Leopard 2A4 and Leopard 2A5 tanks. But the Abrams acquisition is meant to allow Warsaw to replace its outdated Soviet-designed T-72 and PT-91 tanks with a new tracked vehicle.
Błaszczak said delivery of new tanks was expected to begin in 2022. He did not disclose the value of the potential deal, but said it would include logistics, training and simulators for Polish troops.
The potential sale has garnered congressional interest and support. In the House Armed Services Committee’s version of the fiscal 2022 defense policy bill, lawmakers expressed approval of Poland’s decision to purchase the tanks.
“This will enhance NATO’s ability to deter Russian aggression on its Eastern flank and the Committee encourages the Administration to facilitate this foreign military sale as soon as possible,” the language states.
The committee directed the defense secretary and the Defense Security Cooperation Agency’s director to brief congressional defense committees by the end of the year on the process and timeline to facilitate a sale of Abrams tanks to Poland.
A DSCA notification of approval for a possible sale of Abrams to Poland has not yet been sent to the Hill.
Poland is aggressively modernizing its military capability with a focus on interoperability with U.S. Army and Air Force capabilities.
The country is meeting defense budget targets laid out through the Wales Summit Declaration, which requires NATO member states to spend 2 percent of their gross domestic product on defense, with 20 percent allocated to major equipment research and development and acquisition, according to the HASC’s markup.
Jen Judson is the land warfare reporter for Defense News. She has covered defense in the Washington area for 10 years. She was previously a reporter at Politico and Inside Defense. She won the National Press Club's best analytical reporting award in 2014 and was named the Defense Media Awards' best young defense journalist in 2018.