First HIMARS launchers arrive in Poland

The first shipment of US made HIMARS light multiple rocket launchers has arrived in Poland, the country's defence minister has said. 

In 2019, Poland ordered 20 HIMARS long-range rocket artillery systems, including 18 combat and two training launchers, for USD 414 million (EUR 378 mln). The United States also approved the potential sale of another almost 500 launchers, for which the Polish defence ministry had made an inquiry.

"The first out of 20 American HIMARS launchers ordered have arrived in Poland," Mariusz Blaszczak announced on Monday at the Okecie military airport in Warsaw.

He added that this batch will be delivered to the 16th Mechanised Division, stationed in the Warminsko-Mazurskie province in northern Poland.

Blaszczak also said that Poland is negotiating another contract for HIMARS.

"The US Congress has approved the sale of almost 500 launchers to Poland. These launchers will be brought to Poland as soon as possible and will be mounted on (Polish-produced - PAP) Jelcz chassis," he added.

According to Blaszczak, Poland wants to make sure that under the new HIMARS contract, the production of both launchers and rockets will take place in Poland. "This is the goal we have set ourselves," he said.

Blaszczak also said that he is "optimistic" about the contract being negotiated.

"I have had a very good conversation with the (US defence) secretary Lloyd Austin... I have also talked to the management of Lockheed Martin (the company producing HIMARS - PAP)," he said.

A Himars Academy, Blaszczak continued, will soon be established in the northern city of Torun where soldiers will be trained in how to use and service the weapons system.

The M142 HIMARS (High Mobility Artillery Rocket System) is a long-range rocket artillery system on a tracked chassis produced by Lockheed Martin.

The range, depending on the type of ammunition, is up to 300 km. Due to the needs of the USA and other countries interested in the HIMARS system, and the time necessary to complete another potential order, the Defence Ministry purchased 218 K239 Chunmoo launchers from South Korea last year for USD 3.55 billion (EUR 3.3 bln)

Later on Monday, Mark Brzezinski, the US ambassador to Poland, wrote on Twitter that the arrival of the HIMARS units meant a further step in raising security levels in Poland and on the eastern flank of Nato.

"Russia's aggressive policy towards Ukraine calls for decisive action, and thanks to the HIMARS (launchers - PAP) Poland will be developing its long-range artillery capabilities," Brzezinski tweeted, adding that "together we are stronger."