MSPO 2023: Poland showcases newly acquired M142 HIMARS MLRS

At the MSPO 2023 event, Poland displays its newly acquired M142 HIMARS (High Mobility Artillery Rocket System), highlighting the nation's commitment to enhancing its defense capabilities through a strategic partnership with the United States. Poland already bought 38 HIMARS launchers and expressed its intention to make further acquisitions of the system.
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Poland showcases its newly acquired M142 HIMARS MLRS at MSPO 2023 (Picture source: Army Recognition)

Poland initially purchased 20 HIMARS launchers on November 29, 2018. The comprehensive contract at the time included 20 HIMARS M142 Launchers, 36 Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System (GMLRS) M31 Unitary rockets, 9 Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System (GMLRS) M30A1 Alternative Warheads, 30 Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS) M57 Unitary rockets, and various associated elements, such as vehicle assets, training, and support equipment. The contract was valued at $655 million.

On February 7, 2023, the US State Department approved another HIMARS Foreign Military Sale to Poland, valued at $10 billion. Poland's request included 18 M142 HIMARS launchers, 468 HIMARS Launcher Loader Module kits, 45 M57 Army Tactical Missile Systems (ATACMS), 461 M30A2 Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System Alternative Warhead (GMLRS-AW) pods, 521 M31A2 Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System Unitary (GMLRS-U) pods, and 532 XM403 Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System Extended Range Alternative Warhead (GMLRS-ER AW) pods. The package also encompassed support equipment, communications gear, spare parts, and comprehensive training, among other components.

Poland has announced its plans to establish an M142 HIMARS Academy within the country on April 18, 2023. This academy is intended to serve as a training center for Polish soldiers, enabling them to effectively operate the M142 HIMARS artillery system.

On May 15, 2023, the Polish Ministry of Defense announced the delivery of the first five M142 HIMARS units, supplied by the United States. These units were assigned to the 1st missile brigade, stationed in Toruń and Ożyš, which is part of the 16th Mechanized Division in the northeastern part of Poland, near the Suwalki Gap. These vehicles also took part in the parade held on August 15, 2023, in commemoration of Polish Army Day.

The Suwalki Gap, located between Poland's border with Lithuania, has become a point of concern for NATO's defense strategy due to its vulnerability. It represents a strategic location where an attack could potentially disrupt access to the Baltic States, making it a focus for NATO's security considerations in the event of a conflict between Russia and the alliance.

Tensions in the region remain strained, with reports of escalating military maneuvers and diplomatic tensions between Poland, Belarus, and Russia. Poland's decision to relocate military units closer to the Belarusian border, in response to the presence of Wagner mercenary fighters (a Russian ally), prompted a response from Russian President Vladimir Putin. During a televised Security Council meeting, Putin warned that any aggression against Belarus would be considered an attack on Russia, with potential consequences.

Poland's future plans for the HIMARS launcher system include the implementation of the HIMARS launcher system on a locally-made Jelcz 663.45 T60 TS 6×6 truck chassis, further enhancing its mobility and flexibility.

The M142 HIMARS, a highly mobile artillery rocket system developed by Lockheed Martin for the United States Army, is known for its precision and extended reach. It comprises a solitary launch pod capable of housing either six M30 guided rockets or one Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS) missile.

The M30 Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System (GMLRS), also known as the GMLRS Unitary Rocket, serves as the primary munition for the M142 HIMARS. It relies on GPS guidance, ensuring remarkable accuracy with a circular error probability (CEP) of less than 5 meters under optimal conditions. This precision makes it an ideal choice for missions prioritizing minimal collateral damage.

With a maximum range of approximately 70 kilometers, the M30's long-range capabilities, coupled with its accuracy and unitary warhead, make it an effective tool for precise attacks against high-value targets, including enemy artillery, command and control centers, and critical infrastructure.