Poland has received its first delivery of US-made HIMARS rocket launchers as its defenses upgrade amid security concerns over the war in neighboring Ukraine.
Defense Minister, Mariusz Blaszczakand other military commanders attended the acquisition ceremony on Monday from the military installations of the 16th Army Artillery Brigade near Warsaw, and declared that this weaponry will provide Poland with “great firepower in a relatively short time ”.
The minister further stressed that HIMARS rocket launchers have been combat-tested in Ukraine and that NATO member Poland was trying to get more to achieve a total force of about 500 units.
According to a 2019 contract, Poland will spend some 380 million euros ($414 million) to buy 18 advanced HIMARS rocket launchers and two HIMARS training launchers, with ammunition and related equipment.. Poland is buying billions of dollars worth of weapons, mainly from the United States and South Korea, to modernize its armed forces. The deal includes logistics and training.
Some of the equipment will replace weapons – including a dozen Soviet-made MiG-29 fighters – that Poland has been handing over to Ukraine to help it fight Russia’s nearly 15-month-old invasion.
The arrival of these missile launchers has been preceded in recent months by the reception of technical support elements and auxiliary vehicles from the HIMARS system, which in the Polish version will be equipped with GMLRS ammunition (guided missiles launched in broadsides), with a range of about 70 kilometers, and ATACMS (tactical missiles), capable of attacking targets located more than 300 kilometers away.
The M142 HIMARS, or High Mobility Artillery Rocket System, is a multiple rocket launcher developed in the late 1990s for the US military.
Warsaw formulated a request to Washington last year to receive another 500 HIMARS launchers, which was approved by the US government, and a few months ago it signed a contract with the South Korean consortium that manufactures the K239 Chunmoo rocket launchers to finalize the purchase of 218 units for value of 3,300 million euros (3,589 million dollars).
In addition, Blaszczak announced the establishment of a training and logistics center in Poland to provide service to all allied countries that use these missile launchers, which joins the recent decision to install a similar logistics center for countries that use Leopard tanks.
Poland’s conservative government, which is bidding for a third term in parliamentary elections in the fall, has heavily publicized the acquisitions in an attempt to reassure Poles embroiled in military conflict across their eastern border.
Poland received several Patriot missile systems from the United States last year, and is expected to deliver another battery this year. The first Abrams tanks from the United States have also arrived, as well as deliveries of South Korean main battle tanks and howitzers.
Poland has also bought US F-35 fighters and South Korean FA-50 jets.
(with information from AP and EFE)
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