10 billion dollars for 486 Polish HIMARS
10 billion dollars for 486 Polish HIMARS
© US Army

| Gaétan Powis | Source : Air&Cosmos 550 mots

10 billion dollars for 486 Polish HIMARS

The Pentagon has just authorized the signing of a contract with Poland for the purchase of 486 HIMARS. This contract, estimated at 10 billion dollars, includes various munitions but also and above all 18 M142 HIMARS and 468 launchers to be placed on Polish trucks. This Polish purchase request was made in order to increase the firepower and modernize the capabilities of its Armed Forces. It has also recently ordered South Korean K239 Chunmoo rocket launchers, which will be used alongside the American-made HIMARS.

Purchase Authorization

On Feb. 7, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) authorized a contract estimated to be worth about $10 billion for M142 HIMARS and ammunition for the Polish armed forces. The contract in question primarily includes 18 M142 HIMARS (High Mobility Artillery Rocket System) launchers and 468 HIMARS launcher-loader module kits, to be installed on Polish Jelcz trucks. It also takes over various munitions:

  • 45 M57 ATACMS (Army Tactical Missile Systems)
    • Cruise missile (1 per pod)
    • Short range (between 70 and 300 kilometers) and 9-meter accuracy
    • Probably the upgraded version, M57E1
  • 461 rocket pods M30A2 GMLRS-AW (Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System Alternative Warhead) equipped with IMPS (Insensitive Munitions Propulsion System, decreases risk of propulsion system explosion on impact).
    • Rocket (6 per pod)
    • Inertial and GPS guidance (accuracy of a few meters)
    • Maximum range of more than 70 kilometers
    • Fragmentation warhead; explodes 10 meters above the ground, projecting hundreds of thousands of fragments (against personnel, vehicles, radars and facilities,...)
  • 521 rocket pods M31A2 GMLRS-U (Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System Unitary) equipped with IMPS
    • Rocketing (6 per pods)
    • Inertial and GPS guidance
    • Maximum range of over 70 kilometers
    • HE warhead (23 kilos of explosive)
  • 532 warheads XM403 GMLRS-ER AW (Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System Extended Range Alternative Warhead)
    • Rocket (6 per pod)
    • Inertial and GPS guidance
    • Range increased to 150 kilometers
    • Fragmentation warhead

Two systems, but which purchases?

It should be noted that this announcement is by no means a firm contract: it represents a purchase option for Poland. Therefore, we will have to wait for the Polish government's decision to know the exact number of HIMARS purchased.

It should be noted that Poland already ordered 218 K239 Chunmoo multiple rocket launchers from South Korea in November 2022 (technical information on the K239 in this article) and so it is highly unlikely that all 500 HIMARS will be ordered; the Polish future multiple-rocket launcher procurement program was to create 80 batteries, for an estimated total of 500 launchers.

Thus, the 218 K239s ordered and the 20 M142s already in service (contract signed in 2019), only 262 M142 HIMARS remain to be purchased. However, this decision dates back to the 2010s and is therefore perhaps no longer relevant with the war in Ukraine: the Ukrainians have clearly demonstrated that a handful of multiple rocket launchers, equipped with precision rockets, can inflict great damage during a high-intensity conflict. Nevertheless, this figure of 500 launchers is already impressive, if only compared to the capabilities in Europe. Moreover, this figure also does not take into account the 672 new K9PL self-propelled heavy artillery howitzers, also purchased from South Korea.

Finally, these purchases are part of a revised defense policy and a willingness to modernize and re-equip the Polish Armed Forces, and especially the land capabilities. For more information, a series of two articles had already covered this topic, summarizing the main purchases:

  • Part 1: purchases of 48 light fighters and 1,348 battle tanks
  • Part 2: purchases of 500 HIMARS, a new anti-aircraft system, 32 transport helicopters, and 96 combat helicopters.
Le futur binôme de lance-roquettes multiples polonais : M142 HIMARS et K239 Chunmoo.
The future Polish multiple rocket launcher systems: M142 HIMARS and K239 Chunmoo. © Polish MoD
Le futur binôme de lance-roquettes multiples polonais : M142 HIMARS et K239 Chunmoo.

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