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Babcock International and Polish Armaments Group (Polska Grupa Zbrojeniowa – PGZ) have entered into a framework agreement with the intention of forming a joint venture (JV) that further strengthens their strategic partnership, the two companies announced on 16 August 2023.

The JV will see both companies work more closely together to deliver Poland’s Miecznik frigate programme and on the potential development of broader international opportunities. The JV framework agreement follows a strategic co-operation agreement signed by the two companies in March 2022.

The three multi-role frigates to be built for the Polish navy under the Miecznik programme will be based on Babcock’s Arrowhead 140 Frigate design. Babcock and PGZ plan to deliver this programme by combining their shipbuilding and equipment support capabilities while also seek opportunities to partner for other naval and wider defence programmes.

The announcement of the JV framework agreement on 16 August coincided with the news that the first steel had been cut for the lead frigate on the same day.

The announcement of the JV framework agreement between Babcock and PGZ on 16 August 2023 coincided with the news that the first steel had been cut for the lead frigate of the Miecznik programme the same day. (Photo: PGZ)

The companies stated in their press release that the JV plan is “currently going through latter-stage commercial processes” and “will be a further boost to UK and Polish industry collaboration and wider prosperity generation, following the recent signing of the 2030 Strategic Partnership between the UK and Poland, which seeks to deepen policy, security and defence co-operation”.

The UK-Polish 2030 Partnership was signed in London on 5 July 2023 by UK Foreign Secretary James Cleverly and Defence Secretary Ben Wallace and their Polish counterparts, Minister for Foreign Affairs Zbigniew Rau and Minister for National Defence Mariusz Błaszczak.

Babcock CEO David Lockwood was quoted as saying in a company press release, “In today’s world, sovereign defence has never been more important. Our planned joint venture with PGZ continues to build on our increasingly close relationship, enabling us to consolidate the core capabilities of both organisations to benefit our current and future customers.

“What we do matters more than ever,” he added, “and today we are proud to stand alongside our Polish partner as they cut the first steel on this national shipbuilding programme.”

Sebastian Chwałek, CEO of PGZ, was quoted as saying, “Once concluded, the joint venture will not only support the Miecznik programme, but also work as a platform for future naval shipbuilding capabilities. Strengthening the potential of the Polish Navy is an absolute priority for us, but in the long term, together with Babcock, we also plan to create export opportunities. Co-operation in the development of naval forces is also an action to strengthen the NATO, of which both our countries are extremely important representatives.”

Peter Felstead