Warsaw received its first shipment of US-made High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS), manufactured by Lockheed Martin, and announced plans to deploy the launchers near the country’s shared border with Russia’s Kaliningrad enclave.
In March, the Polish Defense Ministry announced these long-range multiple rocket launchers, which have a range of nearly 200 miles, would be placed within 50 miles of the border with Kaliningrad. Russia’s enclave is sandwiched between Poland and Lithuania, another NATO member.
According to the Associated Press, the HIMARS will be stationed with the 1st Artillery Brigade in Olsztyn. “This weapon will be deployed in the northeastern part of our country… its task will be to deter the aggressor,” Polish Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak told the media at an acquisition ceremony on Monday.
Blaszczak said the war in Ukraine has demonstrated both the “key role” of artillery and the value of the HIMARS themselves, adding Warsaw seeks roughly 500 units. “The US Congress has approved the sale of almost 500 launchers to Poland. These launchers will be brought to Poland as soon as possible,” Blaszczak said.
The Polish government also plans to establish a HIMARS academy, in the city of Torun, for other NATO members that plan on acquiring or already possess the advanced artillery systems.
Per a 2019 contract, Poland has spent $414 million to purchase 20 HIMARS, including two training launchers, with ammo, other equipment, as well as logistics and training. This shipment represents the first batch out of the 4-year old deal. Warsaw is currently spending billions on weapons, including on American fighter jets to replace the Soviet-era MIG-29s Poland has transferred to Ukraine.
In a major escalation with Moscow, Poland was the first NATO state to make the pledge to send its fighter jets to Ukraine, Blaszczak confirmed last week that Warsaw had provided Kiev with more than a dozen of the Soviet-era warplanes.
Poland also recently received deliveries of howitzers and other tanks from South Korea, as well as the first deliveries of American Abrams tanks.