Thursday, 18 August 2022

A European Powerhouse: Polish Military Aid To Ukraine

By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
Few countries have offered Ukraine even half the extent of military support that Poland has provided. Polish military aid to Ukraine has so far encompassed well over 300 armoured fighting vehicles (AFVs), including over 250 tanks and some 110 pieces of self-propelled guns and multiple rocket launchers, amongst a host of other weapon types. Poland also serves the important role of central transit hub for arms donations to Ukraine, and the majority of Western military aid enters through Poland. Even though Poland does not disclose details of most of its arms deliveries, a great number of armament types have meanwhile been spotted or reported on by authorities in Ukraine.

Arguably the most significant Polish arms delivery consists of some 250+ T-72M(R) and T-72M1(R) MBTs. While Spain and Germany considered but ultimately refrained from sending Leopard 2s and Leopard 1s (at least until January 2023), Poland showed little hesitation in transferring a significant portion of its combat-ready T-72 fleet to Ukraine in April, where they were subsequently up-armoured through the addition of Kontakt-1 explosive reactive armour (ERA). A number of these T-72s previously underwent a modernisation programme in Poland that saw the fitting of new (night) sights and communication systems, greatly increasing their effectiveness on the plains of Ukraine. [1]
Rather than outright replacing the 250 or more MBTs lost by Ukraine since February 24, the vast majority of the Polish-delivered T-72s were held back for use with newly-established mechanised brigades in future offensive actions. [2] These units are the recipients of most of the AFVs currently delivered to Ukraine, providing a strategic reserve for both offensive and defensive operations. The resulting shortfall in Polish military capabilities is to be made up by deployment of British Challenger 2 MBTs to Poland and the delivery of 116 M1A1 Abrams MBTs from the United States, in addition to the 250 M1A2s ordered in April 2022. [3] Their acquisition is part of an immense rearmament programme that also is to see the purchase of up to 1000 K2PL MBTs, 672 K9 SPGs and 288 K239 MRLs from South Korea. [4] [5] A constant inflow of new armament allows Poland to retire increasing amounts of Soviet-era weapon types that can then be transferred to Ukraine, ensuring Poland's status as an arsenal of freedom for years to come.

Perhaps even more important than the T-72 MBTs and BWP-1 infantry fighting vehicles (IFVs) is the delivery of long-range artillery assets such as the 155mm AHS Krab. Poland has donated eighteen of these modern SPGs in June 2022, with another 54 examples purchased by Ukraine to be delivered in the coming period. [6] The AHS Krab combines the turret of the British AS-90M with a Rheinmetall 155mm/52-caliber barrel and a Polish Topaz fire-control system mated to the chassis of the K9 Thunder SPG to give its cannon a range of 30km (or 40km when using base bleed rounds). A total of 72 of these advanced artillery pieces would certainly make it amongst the most numerous modern SPG in Ukrainian service, serving alongside smaller numbers of PzH 2000s, French CAESARs and Slovakian Zuzana 2s.

Equally impressive have been a number of Polish crowdfunding actions organised by journalist Sławomir Sierakowski and the Army of Drones, the cumulative efforts of which have resulted in the purchase of one Bayraktar TB2 from Baykar Tech (which subsequently gave the drone free of charge, with the $5 million raised to be used for charities helping Ukrainian citizens), 20 WB Electronics FlyEye reconnaissance UAVs and 20 WB Electronics Warmate loitering munitions. [7] This substantive military aid coming from the Polish private sector demonstrates Polish citizens are firmly united behind Ukraine's cause, in so doing impacting the course of the war to a greater extent than some entire nation states have done.

As the Russo-Ukrainian War currently shows no sign of abating, further military aid to Ukraine is undoubtedly being contemplated. This could include additional BWP-1 IFVs, SAM systems, SPGs and MRLs, engineering equipment, Mi-8/17 and Mi-24 (attack) helicopters and drones. Another asset highly sought after by Ukraine that is currently in service with Poland is the MiG-29 fighter aircraft. Though an earlier plan to donate 20+ of Poland's MiG-29s to Ukraine ultimately did not come to fruition, a prolonged conflict in Ukraine might well see the eventual transfer of Poland's entire MiG-29 fleet to the country. Whether such a donation is to materialise would ultimately have little impact on Poland's well-established status as one of the staunchest allies of Ukraine.

A LPG WDSz command vehicle that was delivered to Ukraine along with the AHS Krab SPGs.

The following list attempts to keep track of military equipment delivered or pledged to Ukraine by Poland shortly prior and during the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine. The entries below are sorted by armament category (with a flag denoting the country of origin). Due to the confidential nature of some arms deliveries they can serve only as a lower bound to the total volume of weaponry delivered. This list includes both equipment donations by the Polish government as well as equipment crowdfunded by Polish citizens. This list is constantly updated as further military support is declared or uncovered.
* Purchases by the Ukrainian government from Polish defence companies.
(Click on the vehicle or equipment type to get a picture of them)

Fighter Jets (14)

Tanks (~330)

Infantry Fighting Vehicles (242+)

  • 142 BWP-1s [Delivered from April 2022 onwards]
  • 200 KTO Rosomaks* [To be delivered] (Purchased by Ukraine with EU and US funding)

Infantry Mobility Vehicles


Command Vehicles

  • LPG WDSzs [June 2022] (Command vehicle for the AHS Krab SPG)

Self-Propelled Artillery (~95)

Multiple Rocket Launchers (20+)

Anti-Aircraft (AA) Guns


Self-Propelled Anti-Aircraft Guns (SPAAGs)


Surface-To-Air Missile (SAM) Systems

Air-To-Air Missiles (100)

  • 100 R-73s (For Su-27 and MiG-29 fighter aircraft) [February 2022]

Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicles (1)

  • 1 Bayraktar TB2 [Late 2022] (Crowdfunded by Polish citizens. Subsequently given to Ukraine by Baykar Tech free of charge with the €5 million collected used for aid)

Reconnaissance UAVs (20+)

  • 20+ WB Electronics FlyEyes [February or March 2022 and August 2022] (An initial batch was delivered by the Polish Armed Forces with 20 more FlyEyes crowdfunded through the Lithuanian-Polish Army of Drones crowdfunder)

Loitering Munitions (53)

  • 53 WB Electronics Warmates [Late 2022 and May 2023] (43 crowdfunded through the Lithuanian-Polish Army of Drones crowdfunder. An additional 10 examples donated by the manufacturer WB Group)

Man Portable Air Defence Systems (260)

  • 260 PPZR Pioruns [160 delivered in February 2022. 100 more purchased by Ukraine in April 2023]


Mortars (100)


Small Arms


  • ''Large Quantities'' Of 120mm OF-NMR HE-FRAG Ammunition For Mortars [Before November 2022]
  • ''Large Quantities'' Of 122mm OF-462 HE Ammunition For 2S1 SPGs [Since February 2022]
  • ''Large Quantities'' Of 152mm Ammunition For Artillery [Since February 2022]
  • ''Large Quantities'' Of 125mm Ammunition For T-72 Tanks [Since February 2022]
  • 30.000+ Rounds Of 5.56x45mm And 23mm Ammunition [February 2022]
  • 73mm PG-9 Ammunition For SPG-9 Recoilless Guns [February or March 2022]

Protective Gear

[1] MSPO 2021: Modernized T-72M1R main battle tank on display
[2] Attack On Europe: Documenting Ukrainian Equipment Losses During The 2022 Russian Invasion Of Ukraine
[3] Poland Buys 116 Used M1A1 Abrams Tanks From US
[4] Poland purchases 1,000 K2 tanks, 672 K9 howitzers 
[5] Poland to Buy K239 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems From South Korea
[6] Poland Sells Its Krab Howitzers to Ukraine: A Record-Breaking Contract  
[7] Українські захисники отримають 20 дронів-розвідників Fly Eye від Армії дронів
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