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12 Sep, 2023 01:17

Poland signs deal for nearly 500 HIMARS launchers

Lockheed Martin confirmed a framework agreement on tailoring the missile launchers to be mounted on Polish-made Jelcz 6X6 trucks
Poland signs deal for nearly 500 HIMARS launchers

Warsaw has approved plans to obtain another 486 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) launchers which it hopes to begin producing domestically starting at the end of 2025 under a joint venture with US defense contractor Lockheed Martin Corp.

“Our goal is to create a situation in which a strong Polish Army will actually deter the aggressor, and we will do it,” Polish Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak said on Monday in a statement announcing the HIMARS order, citing the perceived threat of Russian expansionism.

“As I have declared many times, within two years, Poland will have the strongest land army, and one of the most important components of this army will be rocket artillery,” he added.

Poland’s latest HIMARS order is scheduled for delivery starting at the end of 2025. Combined with a 2019 purchase of the US-made artillery system, the latest deal will give it a total of 500 HIMARS units.

However, Western military contractors have struggled to keep pace with surging demand for their hardware amid the Russia-Ukraine conflict. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg warned earlier this year that the Western military bloc is unable to produce artillery rounds fast enough to match Ukraine’s rate of firing.

Lockheed Martin said it will to work with the Polish industry on tailoring the HIMARS launcher-loader module kits to be mounted on Polish-made Jelcz 6X6 trucks.

Polish contractors also expect to be licensed to produce HIMARS ammunition. “We’re looking forward to jointly ensuring Poland and the entire region stay ahead of emerging security threats,” Lockheed Martin executive Paula Hartley said.

The Ukraine conflict also has given Russian forces ample practice in countering the HIMARS system. The Ukrainian Defense Ministry acknowledged in July that Russia had found ways to jam the GPS guidance system for its US-made rockets, reducing their effectiveness.

Key Polish contractors involved in the HIMARS program will include Polska Grupa Zbrojeniowa (PGZ), Huta Stalowa Wola (HSW), WZU, and MESKO. Given that a HIMARS launcher and its associated ammunition costs around $5.1 million, Poland’s bet on the US-made system may be valued at about $2.5 billion.

HIMARS batteries fitted to Poland’s Homar-A truck-mounted artillery system will be able to fire six rockets in quick succession at ranges of 70 kilometers (43 miles), Lockheed Martin said. The trucks also will be able to launch US MGM-140 Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS) projectiles at ranges up to 300 kilometers (190 miles).