Poland is making steps to purchasing 32 F-35 fighter jets, according to an announcement by Polish Defense Minister Mariusz Błaszczak at a press conference on February 28th.
The Defense Minister’s main argument for the possibly purchase is the unreliability of the Polish air force’s aging fleet of MiG-29s and Su-22 fighter jets.
“I expect that both the chief of the General Staff and the chief of the weapons inspection will immediately take action to complete this task. This aircraft is very important because it enhances the combat capabilities of the F-16 aircraft currently in use. We are determined to replace the former Soviet aircraft, which have no combat value and are worn out. The tragic incident last year, when the MiG-29 pilot died, also makes the Harpia program for purchasing fifth-generation airplanes our priority,” the Polish minister said.
Further, Blaszczak said: “Why the fifth generation? Because we want to make a qualitative leap in terms of the armament with which the Polish army is equipped. Just like many years ago, such a qualitative leap was the purchase of F-16 aircraft, now the purchase of fifth-generation aircraft will be a breakthrough. It will also allow the ability to interact, which will significantly increase the deterrence of the enemy. “
Under the new plan presented by Minister Blaszczak at a ceremony in Warsaw, a total of 185.1 billion zlotys (about 48.8 billion dollars at the current exchange rate) is expected to be spent on the purchase of weapons and military equipment for the Polish armed forces in a ten-year period.
The conference presented the Technichal Modernization Plan, that would cover the period between 2017 and 2026. The document outlines the modernization effort that is to be undertaken by the MoD over the term in question.
The plan is separated in the following programs:
- HARPIA program: Acquiring a new generation multi-tasking aircraft that will introduce a new quality in aviation operations. A multipurpose aircraft will operate in an anti-access and network-centric environment and will cooperate with a component of allied air forces;
- The NAREW program: Acquisition of anti-aircraft batteries of short-range missile systems to combat, among other things, unmanned aerial vehicles, as well as for the destruction of missiles. We anticipate extensive use of the Polish arms industry and technology transfer for the production of rockets;
- The KRUK program: Acquisition of modern attack helicopters to be used by the ground forces;
- MIL program: As part of the CYBER.MIL operational program, we will acquire domestic tools and software that will enable us to carry out effective operations in cyberspace and the latest Polish cryptographic technologies. We will mainly use the capabilities of Polska Grupa Zbrojeniowa and Exatel, and we intend to allocate PLN 3 billion to the program itself;
- The WISŁA program: The anti-aircraft and anti-missile program for medium-range missile systems WISŁA will be one of the main elements forming the national air defense system. On March 28, 2018, Minister Mariusz Błaszczak signed a contract for the implementation of the first stage of the WISŁA program. Its basic task will be to fight pilot and unmanned aerial attack aircraft as well as launch tactical short-range combat missiles and missile maneuvers;
- GRYF program: Acquisition of mid-range tactical unmanned aerial vehicles;
- The WAŻKA program: Acquisition of unmanned aerial vehicles intended for use mainly in urbanized areas. Equipped with an optoelectronic head that allows observation during the day and at night;
- PŁOMYKÓWKA program: Acquiring comprehensive reconnaissance aircrafts;
- MIECZNIK program: Obtaining a coast defense ship, which is to replace the unit that was withdrawn from service and increase the ability to cooperate in allied and coalition task forces;
- ORKA program: Acquiring the ability to damage surface and submarine targets through the “New Type Submarine.” This combat vessel will increase the ability to effectively employ the arms and impact potential of ships in the field of combating nautical, underwater and land targets, as well as destroying airborne anti-submarine forces;
- The REGINA program: Acquiring 155 mm artillery units. This will be equipment that enhances the tactical capability of the artillery. The contractor is Huta Stalowa Wola. Other artillery unit modules are also planned to be acquired such as a 120 mm self-propelled mortars RAK. Acquisition of several artillery units as part of the modernization of the Missile and Artillery Armies. Mortars are produced by the HSW S.A. Consortium. and ROSOMAK S.A;
- HOMAR program: Acquisition of multiple rocket launchers, capable of striking targets at a distance between 70-300 km;
- HUST program: Acquiring anti-tank guided missile launchers. Thanks to the implementation of the program, the Polish Armed Forces will be equipped with new lightweight, anti-tank guided missile kits, which do not require complicated training;
- BORSUK program: Introduction of a new combat vehicle based on a universal modular chassis developed and manufactured by the Polish defense industry to equip the Polish Armed Forces. It will replace, among others a well-worn Soviet war vehicle – the BWP-1, and it will also be amphibious;
- The MUSTANG program: Acquiring high-mobility trucks and passenger cars.
The plan to increase expenditure on technical modernization until 2026 is the following:
- 2017 – approx. PLN 8.8 billion
- 2018 – approx. PLN 12.5 billion
- 2019 – approx. PLN 11 billion
- 2020 – approx. PLN 14 billion
- 2021 – approx. PLN 17.6 billion
- 2022 – approx. PLN 19.2 billion
- 2023 – approx. PLN 20.3 billion
- 2024 – approx. PLN 25 billion
- 2025 – approx. PLN 25.9 billion
Thus, it appears that Poland is arming itself to defend itself against actual or imaginary “Russian aggression.”