Poland aims to have the ‘strongest land forces in Europe,’ declares Polish defense minister

Poland seeks to bolster its defenses in one of the country’s largest arms purchases in history

editor: Grzegorz Adamczyk
author: Marcin Chomiuk
Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of National Defense Mariusz Błaszczak announcing new arms deal with South Korea

Poland is determined to transform its land forces into NATO’s most powerful in Europe, the country’s Deputy Prime Minister and Defense Minister Mariusz Błaszczak said on Thursday in an interview with Polish Radio 1.

Earlier this week, Błaszczak approved procurement contracts for South Korean equipment for Poland’s armed forces, which will receive FA-50 light fighter jets, K2 tanks, and K9 self-propelled gun-howitzers.

“We are striving to replace the entirety of our armor fleet and to have NATO’s strongest ground forces in Europe, and we will do it,” said Błaszczak. “Cooperation with Korea is of a strategic nature. Polish Armed Forces will be equipped with the first units of K2 tanks this year,” he added.

Błaszczak pointed out that the first 180 K2 Black Panther tanks will be produced in Korea, but the next part, over 800 K2PL tanks will be produced in Poland from 2026 or earlier. The defense minister did not rule out that a new factory could be built in Poland for this task.

The contract to purchase K2 gun-howitzers was also divided into stages. The first stage will see the purchase of 48 howitzers, some of which will arrive in Poland this year. The second stage is to start in 2024, when deliveries of over 600 howitzers will start and from 2026 K2 gun-howitzers will be produced in Poland.

Poland will also purchase 48 FA-50 light fighters, 12 of which will be delivered to Poland in mid-2023. Błaszczak pointed out the very high compatibility of Korean and U.S.-made equipment. “80 percent of the parts are the same as in the F-16. Pilots need only a couple of hours in the cockpit of the other plane to get used to it,” Błaszczak said.

“The Polish defense industry’s capabilities had been reduced over the years. Today, it has a large number of orders. We need time for that, and the Korean partnership gives us the ability to speed up that process,” Błaszczak said. He added that the deal signed on Wednesday will shorten the time of deliveries and allow for “replacing old post-Soviet equipment with modern equipment.”

Poland’s defense minister also reiterated that the first U.S.-made Abrams tanks will be delivered to Poland over the course of the next two years and announced that at the beginning of next week, six F-22 Raptor fighters will arrive in Poland with the tasks of patrolling and working with Polish Air Forces.

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