Polish Senate Reviews Modernization of Armed Forces
(Source: Defence24; posted Oct. 26, 2022)

By Piotr Miedziński (Edited translation by Defense-Aerospace.com)
Poland’s armed forces modernization program has been criticized because of the seemingly haphazard way some duplicate weapons have been bought, for example three types of main battle tanks, as well as the new manning levers the new weapons require. (Polish MoD photo)

WARSAW --- The Polish Senate’s National Defense Committee has reviewed Poland’s armaments policy, and during its debates a lot of interesting information was presented on its defense procurement and industrial development plans.

During the Oct. 25 session, Poland’s Deputy Minister of National Defense, Wojciech Skurkiewicz, presented the activities of he Ministry of National Defense aimed at increasing Poland's defenses by purchasing modern weapons. As he noted, the priority for the Ministry is to award orders, whenever possible, to Polish defense industry, but the minister also stated that "taking into account the needs of the Armed Forces and the current security situation, it is also necessary to diversify the sources of acquiring military equipment".

In justifying the ministry’s policy, Skurkiewicz said that "the current situation we are dealing with today - the political and military situation beyond our eastern border, and especially Russia's aggression towards Ukraine – means that it was necessary to take extensive measures to strengthen the potential of the Armed Forces. Armaments policy must take into account both needs and operational capabilities. "

The Deputy Minister of National Defense recalled that in January 2022 a reform was carried out, enabling the improvement of procedures and harmonization of competences in the field of acquiring equipment: "The appointment of the Technical Modernization Council and the Armaments Agency allowed not only to efficiently verify the current requirements, but also to make them more realistic in terms of their use. existing and planned solutions to be introduced, consolidation of responsibilities and reduction of formalities ".

He added that as part of the reform, two processes were combined: the General Staff of the Polish Army was responsible for defining the operational requirements while the preparation of the initial technical and tactical assumptions was the responsibility of the Armaments Agency. "These changes shortened the path to acquiring equipment for the Polish army."

In introducing the changes, the crucial role was played by the adoption of the Law on the Defense of the Fatherland, the establishment of the Armed Forces Support Fund and the establishment of a high constant ratio of defense financing at the level of 3% of GDP in 2023, which is crucial for acquiring new equipment.

Minister Skurkiewicz recalled that the details of the capabilities and urgent needs of the Polish armed forces, as well as the main directions of the implementation of the armaments policy, are contained in the secret document "Strengthening Package of the Polish Armed Forces for 2023-2025," which was unanimously approved by the parliamentary defense committee. It contains urgent capabilities needs identified by the Armed Forces, including those resulting from the experience of the war in Ukraine regarding the operational use of military equipment, as well as the main directions of the armaments policy as well as the dislocation elements of individual units and components.

The deputy minister emphasized that the first direction of addressing orders was the Polish defense industry, but it was not able to provide all the necessary equipment. Here, the minister gave the example of purchasing F-35 planes or Apache helicopters, which we are not able to produce.

Weapons procurement budget increase

The deputy minister recalled that the Ministry's expenditure on orders in the Polish defense industry in the period 2016–21 amounted to approx. PLN 27 billion, and in 2022 approx. PLN 30 billion. However, it is also necessary to diversify the sources of supplies, hence also purchases abroad, leading to big contracts with South Korea.

Deputy Chief of the General Staff of the Polish Army, Maj. Gen. Dariusz Pluta, discussed testified about new elements of support for the Polish armed forces. The main document constituting the basis for the acquisition of military equipment is the "Armed Forces Modernization Plan for 2021-2035" in which sets goals.

The financial resources allocated for 2022 have been identified in the budget for technical modernization in the amount of nearly PLN 649 billion These funds, supplemented with alternative sources of financing, are to ensure the acquisition of military equipment necessary to develop the operational capacity of the armed forces.

In the area of reconnaissance, it is assumed to acquire jamming systems, including satellite reconnaissance and unmanned aerial vehicles of various classes. In the area of fire, the Land Forces will be equipped with new tanks and infantry fighting vehicles. The increase in the budget will allow the Rocket Forces and Artillery to acquire squadron fire modules of multiple rocket launchers and self-propelled howitzers, as well as fire modules of self-propelled mortars, tank destroyers, search and strike systems and anti-tank guided missiles.

The Air Force’s new squadrons will be equipped with 4th and 5th generation airplanes as well as attack and multi-role helicopters. Stocks of modern means of destruction will be supplemented with long-range guided missiles, anti-tank guided missiles and guided bombs.

The potential of the Navy will be strengthened by more combat and support ships, naval missile units and anti-submarine helicopters. The creation of multi-layer air defense will ensure the acquisition of medium and short-range anti-aircraft weapons, characterized by the precision of destruction. Further sets of the Patriot and Narew systems will be introduced to equip the armed forces. The anti-aircraft defense will be supported by the Pilica + missile and artillery systems and the Poprad and Piorun sets.

In the command area, it is assumed that new generation means of communication, both radio, cable and satellite, will be acquired. The acquisition of new command vehicles will enable commanders to perform command and control functions with the use of secure information exchange. The Engineering Troops will receive equipment for the construction of engineering dams, rapid mine-mining and overcoming water obstacles.

The war in Ukraine and the activities carried out so far on the eastern border of the country indicate the need to allocate significant financial outlays for the acquisition of logistic military equipment . In connection with the above, the armed forces will be equipped with modern technical support vehicles and sets for transporting tanks. More medium and heavy duty cars. Reloading equipment, cisterns and medical evacuation vehicles. As part of the individual soldier's equipment , large quantities of modern portable anti-aircraft missile rifles, ATGM launchers, helmets and bulletproof vests will be purchased.

Information on the cooperation of the arms industry with Polish and foreign entities was discussed by Mateusz Sarosiek, Deputy Director of the Armament Policy Department of the Ministry of National Defense, who presented the main directions of cooperation. According to the statement of the representative of the Ministry of National Defense, "a very important aspect in the dialogues with foreign partners is the long-term maximization of the involvement of Polish defense industry entities, including the establishment of production and service and repair capacities in Poland in cooperation with foreign partners".

The partners with whom bilateral dialogues are held and which translated into cooperation in the field of armaments projects include the United States, the Republic of Korea, Great Britain and Turkey. Sarosiek continued to focus on presenting Polish cooperation with each of the countries, saying that "the Republic of Korea is perceived as a potential strategic partner of Poland in the field of broadly understood defense and industrial cooperation (...). Bilateral dialogue is very constructive, among others thanks to the openness and flexible approach of the Korean side, specific directions of action were defined. ”Sarosiek emphasized that the Korean side ensures possible quick deliveries of equipment, the first ones will be delivered before the end of this year.

In the industrial aspect, Poland and Korea are focused on the implementation of joint projects in the field of land and air technology with companies such as Hyundai Rotem, which produces K2 tanks, Hanwha Defense, which supplies K9 howitzers, and Korea Aerospace Industries, which produces FA-50 fighters. It was emphasized that Polish-Korean cooperation was to be based on the assumption that Polish defense companies could gain as much as possible, and the Korean side, when negotiating contracts, declared its openness in the widest possible scope of technology and knowledge transfer to PGZ's production plants.

As far as the American direction is concerned, Sarosiek recalled the planned purchase of Apache helicopters by the Polish side and the ongoing purchase of Abrams tanks. As he said, "the older version of Abrams tanks will be delivered in the summer of next year, which will retain very high combat capability." In addition, F-35 fighters were purchased, which are to ensure a technological leap, as do the Himars rocket launcher and other systems such as Javelin.

On the British side, Poland is conducting two programs. One of them is Miecznik, where the goal is to acquire three coastal defense frigates, as well as the very large Narew long range air defense program.

The Wisła and Patriot systems are also implemented with the American side, but in cooperation with other (Polish) partners. Additionally, as Sarosiek emphasized, cooperation with the Republic of Turkey is being developed. Bayraktar TB2 drones were contracted here. Talks are also underway in other areas. As the representative of the Ministry of National Defense said, "the Turkish side also shows great interest in cooperation with our domestic defense industry".

Detailed aspects of the purchase of military equipment were presented by the head of the Armaments Agency, Brig. Artur Kuptel, who spoke about the directions in which the equipment is obtained: "It is extremely important that new equipment meeting the requirements of the armed forces is efficiently acquired and delivered on time."

General Kuptel emphasized the importance of diversification in purchases - as he said "we cannot rely only on one direction". The head of the Armaments Agency also presented data on concluded contracts. In the years 2021-2022, the Armaments Agency concluded 159 new contracts, 70 of which in 2021. In 2022, the Armaments Agency is implementing a total of 370 contracts, and 117 procedures are under preparation. Then the head of the Armaments Agency presented contracts divided into domestic and foreign partners.

During the ensuing debate, Senator Robert Mamątow asked if the purchases were made taking into account cooperation with the Polish industry, so that the technologies were also provided to Polish plants.

“Every time we execute orders outside our country, we always offer either partial polonization, or the creation of production potential in the territory of the Republic of Poland or production cooperation. Many orders that we have realized and are fulfilling are also carried out in cooperation with the Polish defense industry. An example is the Jelcz plant, whose platforms are used, for example, in the Wisła Patriot missile program, or, for example, the talks that have been carried out in recent weeks regarding the K239 missile sets. The only platform in Poland for these sets will be the Jelcza platform produced in Poland,” replied the Deputy Minister of Defense.

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