Poland shows off military strength in Army Day parade in Warsaw

Poland shows off military strength in Army Day parade in Warsaw

Poland aims to spend up to 4% of its GDP on boosting army, much of what being bought put on show in Warsaw

By Jo Harper

WARSAW (AA) – About 2,000 soldiers, 200 military vehicles and almost a hundred aircraft took part in Poland’s first military parade since 2019 to mark the Polish Army Day in Warsaw on Tuesday.

The parade – the first without post-Soviet equipment – was organized under the slogan “Strong White and Red” and is the culminating event of the celebrations.

Poland said in January that it plans to increase defense spending to 4% of its gross domestic product this year, the highest level in NATO.

According to NATO estimates, in 2022 NATO spent 2.57% of its combined GDP on defense. The biggest spenders were Greece (3.76%) and the US (3.47%), with Poland third on 2.42%.

The 2023 state budget provides for defense spending of 97.4 billion zlotys (about €22 billion), or nearly 4% of GDP. The target includes doubling the size of the armed forces from 150,000 to 300,000 personnel.

Poland is buying hundreds of tanks and howitzers from the US and South Korea, and Patriot air defense systems, HIMARS rocket launchers and F-35 combat aircraft from the US.

“In a moment we will see how much has changed in the armed forces in recent years,” Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak said in Warsaw on Tuesday. “We are showing our strength and modernity,” he added.

A march of troops included Polish, American, British, Romanian, and Croatian soldiers.

Rosomak-armored personnel carriers in various versions, Rak self-propelled mortars, Krab and K9 gun-howitzers, HIMARS rocket launchers, as well as three types of tanks – Leopard 2, K2 made in South Korea, and Abrams tanks, serving both in Polish and US forces, were on show.

The parade also featured Borsuk infantry fighting vehicles and Baobab-K minelaying vehicles, as well as technical, medical and logistic vehicles.

Patriot anti-aircraft and anti-missile systems, as well as aviation – F-16 and FA-50 fighters – and F-35 belonging to the US Air Force took part in the parade.

Poland has ordered 32 such machines and next year Polish pilots are set to receive the first planes and start training in the US. The first delivery to Poland is planned for 2026.

Helicopters – including Black Hawks or AW101, as well as US Apache attack helicopters – also joined the event.

According to the Global Firepower ranking, the Polish army is ranked 20th among 145 classified armies from around the world. In terms of military power, Poland is ahead of Germany, Spain and Canada. Just above Poland in the ranking are Vietnam, Israel and Iran. The ranking is led by the US, followed by Russia and China.

In the ranking, Poland received high marks for the level of air force, transport and artillery.

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