The Polish Government’s intention to acquire 116 M1A1 Abrams main battle tanks (MBTs) looks to be filtering down into the US industrial base.

The Polish intention to strengthen its MBT fleet follows a 16 February contract award to US-based defence firm, General Dynamics, to conduct turret armour swaps with Polish foreign military sale funding.

The Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) announced Poland’s intention to procure these MBTs in December 2022. The agency stated that the deal would cost the Polish government an estimated $3.75bn.

The DSCA explained that “the proposed sale will improve Poland’s capability to meet current and future threats by providing a credible force that is capable of deterring adversaries and participating in NATO operations. Poland will have no difficulty absorbing this equipment into its armed forces”.

Meanwhile, the contract for turret armour swaps awarded to General Dynamics – amounting to $27,069,515 – has been partly financed by both the Fiscal 2022 Special Defence Acquisition funds and the 2023 foreign military sales (Poland) funds.

Standard fiscal practice

The US financing its own industrial base with money accrued from foreign military sales may appear, at first, to be disconcerting.

It could be construed by some to be more evidence of American attempts to benefit economically from the growing security anxiety in Europe. This has been a popular argument made by European officials throughout the Russia-Ukraine war, particularly with claims the US price-hike their gas and oil supply.

However, it is within Europe’s wider interest for this shrewd business accounting considering the US has led NATO countries in its enormous and diverse support to Ukraine and its NATO allies.

The US has even provided cash injections to help bolster their defence needs. Poland is no exception having received $288.6m in foreign military financing in late September, 2022.

There has also been some concern that the US must look to bolster itself in other areas of its foreign policy, turning its eyes toward China as opposed to Russia, which has become a regional threat with its dwindling capacity and impact.

If US support is to continue, it is in the West’s interest for the US to sustain its production while avoiding financial constraint, leaving Europe to bolster its defence alone in the fight against Russia.