By Kris Osborn - Warrior Maven

(Washington, D.C.) Poland’s move to acquire as many as 250 U.S. built, upgraded M1A2 Abrams SEPv3 tanks brings a substantial new amount of heavy armored firepower to Eastern Europe, sends a key message of deterrence to Russia and signifies the growing multi-national consensus that tanks and heavy armor are here to stay.

M1A2 SEPv3

The state-of-the-art M1A2 SEPv3 configuration features technological advancements in communications, fire control and lethality, reliability, sustainment and fuel efficiency, plus upgraded armor.

Polish Minister of Defense Mariusz Blaszczak was clear in his country’s purpose when speaking at a news conference, stating ….“of course this is a response to the challenges we face in terms of international security. Our task is to deter a potential aggressor. We all know where this aggressor is and what threats are possible. So it is a quick, decisive response to these threats…These are battle-tested tanks, tanks that have been designed as a counterweight to the most modern Russian T-14 Armata tanks."

Russia T-14 Armata Main Battle Tank

Russia's T-14 Armata tank

The dollar amount is reported to be around $23 billion, an amount which includes ammunition and sustainment. Blaszczak also said that, not surprisingly, the tanks will deploy along the Eastern part of the country as part of their 1st Armoured Brigade. Deliveries are slated to begin next year, he said.

"There will be enough of these tanks to create at least four tank battalions, which is more than necessary to create a tank brigade," Blaszczak added during his remarks.

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The addition of Abrams to Poland is quite significant in a number of respects, as it is large and lethal enough to impact the balance of power on the European continent, particularly given the longstanding concern among some observers, think tanks and strategists that areas of Eastern Europe, the Baltics in particular, might not have a sufficient armored force presence to present a sufficient deterrent to Russia. 

Several hundred of the General Dynamics Land Systems built Abrams tanks, dispersed across varied and open terrain, could present a formidable armored wall against any kind of attempted Russian incursion into Eastern Europe. 

Abrams Firepower

The firepower of the Abrams alone, and the upgraded attributes associated with the v3 variant, bring new dimensions of attack possibilities, operational flexibility and long-range, high-resolution targeting.

The other clear element of this is simply that it demonstrates that, not only within the U.S. Army but also throughout Europe, the belief that there simply is not any real substitute for the survivability, firepower and protection provided by the Abrams tank. 

U.S. Army M1S2 SEPv3

Soldiers fire the #USArmy’s new M1A2 SEPv3 tank at , Texas, Aug. 18, 2020.

A more likely scenario, it would seem, may be that the U.S. Army and its allies simply pursue a dual-trajectory, meaning they continue to modernize, upgrade and preserve the Abrams tank while concurrently pursuing faster, lighter-weight, more expeditionary Optionally Manned Tank vehicles. That might make the most sense, particularly given that multi-purpose ammunition, new armor composites, next-gen Forward Looking Infrared sensors and massive breakthroughs in electronics, AI-enabled computing, on-board electrical power and weapons make the 1980s-era Abram an entirely new, modern vehicle.

-- Kris Osborn is the Managing Editor of Warrior Maven and The Defense Editor of The National Interest --

Kris Osborn is the defense editor for the National Interest. Osborn previously served at the Pentagon as a Highly Qualified Expert with the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army—Acquisition, Logistics & Technology. Osborn has also worked as an anchor and on-air military specialist at national TV networks. He has appeared as a guest military expert on Fox News, MSNBC, The Military Channel, and The History Channel. He also has a Master’s Degree in Comparative Literature from Columbia University.