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Over the period 2021-2035, the Polish Ministry of Defence (MoD) plans to spend around PLN524 billion (€123 billion) on various procurement and modernisation programmes aimed at strengthening the operational capability of the country’s armed forces and enhancing security.

Under the updated Technical Modernisation Plan (TMP) Poland will invest in practically all types of conventional weapon and reconnaissance systems, spreading procurement efforts among all five services, including the Air Force, Army, Navy, Special Forces and Territorial Defence Forces.

The main procurement goal outlined by the MoD in the new Technical Modernisation Plan is related to the planned acquisition of at least 32 F-35 LIGHTNING II 5th generation multirole fighter aircraft under the “Harpia” programme. These jets will replace the currently operated, legacy Su-22 bombers/fighters and MiG-29 fighters as well as supplement the 48 F-16C/D Block 52+ jets. The MoD has also outlined the possibility of procuring of another batch of the latter fighters as well.

The Polish MoD has also set itself the goal of improving the country’s capabilities in medium and short-range air and missile defence systems. Therefore, the MoD intends to continue the procurement of another batch of Patriot-based AMD systems under the “Wisla” programme and a number of short-range AMD batteries under the “Narew” project.

Under the first phase of the “Wisla” programme, which was signed off on March 28, 2018, Poland will procure two Patriot-based batteries in the initial, 3+ configuration, along with the Northrop Grumman-developed IAMD Battle Command System (IBCS) and 208 PAC-3 MSE missiles from Lockheed Martin.

The second phase of the project, which is still being negotiated, includes procurement of additional 6 PATRIOT batteries. Furthermore, the “Wisla” programme calls also for the acquisition of a new 360˚ AESA-GaN radar, in the same configuration as the future US Army’s radar system, as well as the future low-cost interceptor, which will supplement the PAC-3 MSE missile.

Over the next 15 years, Poland will also invest in the land platforms, such as next generation Main Battle Tanks (MBT), infantry fighting vehicles and wheeled, armoured vehicles. The “Wilk” programme calls for the procurement of a series of new MBTs, that will replace the legacy T-72 and PT-91 platforms, which no longer meet the requirements of the modern battlefield. Although Poland publicly declared its ambition to independently design and manufacture the new vehicle, the local industry seems to be unable to fulfil this requirement. Therefore, it seems more likely, that the country will eventually join one of the international, pan-European programmes.

The new TMP sets also ambitious plans for restoration of the Polish Navy’s fleet of combat vessels, such as submarines, coastal defence vessels and small rocket ships. The biggest challenge will be the renovation of Poland’s obsolete submarine fleet, which has been shrinking for the past several years. Under the “Orka” programme Poland intends to procure 2-3 modern, conventional submarines, equipped with AIP systems and capable of launching cruise missiles. However, before the acquisition of new submarines could be allocated in the MoD’s budget, the department will have to implement an interim solution, which calls for the procurement or leasing of a number of second-hand vessels from an allied countries.

Michal Jarocki