US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s calls to “strengthen resistance” against Russia has resonated with Poland’s leadership, as the country signed a $414-million deal to purchase an American weapons system.
A product of Lockheed Martin and BAE Systems, the M142 HIMARS is capable of launching both rocket artillery and tactical ballistic missiles with an estimated operational range of 480km. Along with the US Army and Marine Corps, HIMARS is presently operated by the UAE, Jordan and Singapore. In 2017, the US reportedly deployed the systems in southern Syria to protect its base in Al Tanf.
Poland has repeatedly turned to the US to complete the country’s military modernization program. Warsaw has already signed contracts with Washington to buy more drones, Black Hawk helicopters, and most notably the Patriot air-defense system which alone cost a staggering $4.75 billion. The country justified the military splurges with the unsurprising refrain of “Russian aggression.”
The HIMARS purchase was formalized on Wednesday in the presence of another top US official – Vice-President Mike Pence, who came to Warsaw for a conference on the Middle East.
The deal comes amid reports that the US is going to increase its military deployment in Poland. In a statement on Wednesday, the Pentagon confirmed that the two countries are “continuing discussions,” but stressed that “no agreements have been reached.”
Last year, it was reported that Poland offered to pay $2 billion to build ‘Fort Trump’ – a permanent base for American troops in the country intended to deter the supposed Russian threat.
Moscow has repeatedly criticized the US deployment of troops and components of its missile-defense shield on Polish territory. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov called the Polish proposal to host a US base “a sovereign decision,” but warned that “the consequences for the general atmosphere” in Europe would be “obvious.”
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