The United States has agreed that Poland can buy Patriot missile defence systems for its military.
The arrangement was solidified on 5 July 2017 in the presence of US President Donald Trump and publicly announced very soon afterwards. "A memorandum was signed tonight that the US government has agreed to sell Poland Patriot missiles in the most modern configuration”, confirmed Polish Defence Minister, Antoni Macierewicz.
A declaration of intent at this stage – final contract signatures are expected in November – it would see US defence contractor Raytheon provide eight Patriots. Deliveries would start in 2022 and the missile defence systems would be used to counter the ongoing threat posed by Russia’s 9K720 Iskander short-range ballistic missiles.
Polish Patriots Purchase
The planned Polish Patriots purchase represents part of the country’s military upgrade programme that’s ongoing until 2023. With defence spending now increased to 2.01 per cent of GDP, it’s allocated PLN 9.5 billion for new military equipment acquisitions. Most of this figure – PLN 7.06 billion – is tied up in the Polish Armed Forces Technological Modernisation Plan.
Other elements of this plan, besides the Patriots, include 14 multimission helicopters, more than 1,000 UAVs, three coastal defence vessels and a pair of mine destroyers.
Patriot Missile Defence
Patriots already equip 13 nations, five of which are NATO members. Alongside Poland, Romania is another Eastern European country set to soon add them to its inventory, according to a statement made earlier in the year.
The Raytheon-made missile defence system has some 200 combat engagements to its name. Comprising radars, command and control technology and interceptor missiles, it’s able to strike a variety of targets including manned aircraft, UAVs, cruise missiles and ballistic missiles, like the Iskander.
Vladimir Putin, the Russian President, has previously labelled Eastern European missile defence systems “a great danger.” He has also raised the prospect of swelling Russia’s own strike arsenal in reply. Supplementing its Patriots, Poland is also set to receive HOMAR missile launchers from US aerospace/defence firm Lockheed Martin. The Patriots/HOMARs combination will give the country “full security from any enemy using any weapon that could threaten Poland”, Macierewicz added.
Patriot images copyright/courtesy Raytheon