Mariusz Błaszczak made the announcement in a radio interview on Monday, Polish state news agency PAP reported.
Last week, the US State Department approved the sale of nearly 500 High-Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) to Poland, as part of a bigger weapons contract worth USD 10 billion, according to officials.
The deal includes 18 complete HIMARS launchers and 468 HIMARS launcher-loader module kits that will be installed on Polish-made Jelcz trucks.
In 2019, Poland signed a USD 414 million deal to buy 20 HIMARS systems from the United States, including 18 combat launchers and two training launchers, which are slated for delivery in 2023.
‘Polish army will have a squadron of HIMARS in 2023’
In Monday’s interview, Błaszczak said that when the Polish government last year had made an initial inquiry about the possibility of buying 500 HIMARS launchers from America, “there was a wave of criticism, saying that it’s too many.”
Błaszczak told broadcaster Radio Olsztyn: “It’s not too many. We’ll make full use of the possibilities presented by our cooperation with the United States. Why? Because the HIMARS perform excellently. In the hands of the Ukrainians they make very effective weapons, which are stopping the Russian invasion.”
The deputy prime minister, who is also Poland’s defence minister, added that “Poland’s artillery forces must expand and that’s why he said an artillery regiment in northern Poland was turned into a brigade last year.
Błaszczak declared: “We are developing our artillery forces, including rocket artillery forces, because it is an effective weapon. And so the Polish army will be equipped with both the Korean answer to HIMARS [Chunmoo self-propelled multiple rocket launchers], and the HIMARS systems themselves, in a large number.”
Błaszczak confirmed that the first HIMARS systems would be delivered by the end of the year to Poland’s 16th Mechanised Division, stationed in the northeastern Warmińsko-Mazurskie province.
"They will be delivered this year, from the batch ordered in 2019," Błaszczak said on Radio Olsztyn. "And so before the end of 2023, we’ll have a squadron of HIMARS systems in the 16th Mechanised Division," he added.
Monday is day 355 of Russia’s war on Ukraine.
Source: PAP, defence24.pl