Mariusz Błaszczak made the announcement as he officially handed over a batch of 24 South Korean-made K9 Thunder self-propelled howitzers to soldiers in the northeastern town of Węgorzewo on Monday, Polish state news agency PAP reported.
During his speech, the defence minister told the troops that their 11th Artillery Regiment had now been enhanced to brigade status.
Błaszczak, who is also a deputy prime minister, said: “We have decided to reinstate the 1st Masurian Artillery Brigade, which was dismantled in 2010.”
He added that the newly reinstated brigade “will be a serious force that will make northeastern Poland safer.”
Polish army 'equipped with effective, modern weapons'
He went on to say: “Russia's aggression against Ukraine has confirmed the importance of the Polish army being strong, being equipped with effective, modern weapons; the aim is to deter the aggressor.”
Błaszczak told the gathering that the fast acquisition of 24 howitzers from South Korea was evidence of the quick expansion of the Polish army.
“We are aware that the Polish defence industry manufactures very similar weapons, but our needs are big and we have to meet them in a short period of time,” he said.
Błaszczak also announced that in the longer term, Poland would develop “a joint project with South Korean manufacturers to cater to the needs of both the Polish and South Korean armies.”
He added: “Under the agreement we reached in July, we’ll be acquiring 672 K9 howitzers for the Polish army ... The first batch will comprise the same version as the howitzers being handed over today. After that, we’ll be receiving the K9 howitzers in a so-called ‘PL’ version, modernised, more advanced and even more modern."
Błaszczak pledged that the newly formed artillery brigade would be equipped with reconnaissance drones to work together with the howitzers, the PAP news agency reported.
Part of wider military cooperation with South Korea, Poland has ordered a total of 672 K9 howitzers, including the upgraded K9PL version, as well as ammunition, logistics and technical support, from South Korean arms maker Hanwha Defense.
The howitzers, equipped with a 155mm, 52-calibre artillery gun that can fire at targets over 40 kilometres away, are due to be delivered by 2026, according to PAP.
Monday was day 292 of Russia’s war on Ukraine.
Source: PAP, wpolityce.pl