Poland to allocate the biggest defence budget of NATO members for modernization of its army 0606135

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Defence & Security News - Poland

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Thursday, June 6, 2013 11:33 AM
 
Poland to allocate the biggest defence budget of NATO members for modernization of its army.
Poland has embarked on one of the biggest defence spending increases of any Nato member. The programme was launched by Bronislaw Komorowski, the president, in a signing ceremony that symbolically took place not far from the Belarus border.
     
Poland has embarked on one of the biggest defence spending increases of any Nato member. The programme was launched by Bronislaw Komorowski, the president, in a signing ceremony that symbolically took place not far from the Belarus border.
President of Poland Bronislaw Komorowski
     

“Poland will be more secure and more credible as an ally and a key country in our part of Europe, able to defend its own territory and able to help others,” Mr Komorowski said during the ceremony in April.

At a time when most Nato military budgets are under severe strain because of the economic crisis, Poland is undertaking a thorough modernisation of its armed forces which is expected to cost 140bn zlotys ($44bn) over the next decade. This has attracted interest from defence contractors around the world.

“We are in the lead when it comes to the European Union,” says Tomasz Siemoniak, the defence minister. “This is a programme that is noticeable from abroad.”

Poland spends 1.95 per cent of gross domestic product on defence. Because its economy has coped better with the financial crisis than most Nato members, that means the total amount the country spends is rising steadily.

The programme also shifts emphasis from spending on personnel to upgrading equipment. Until now Poland has spent about 16 per cent of its military budget on tanks, rockets and guns but about a third will now be allocated to military hardware.

That will mean something of a revolution for the military. About 60 per cent of the Polish armed forces’ equipment dates back to Soviet times, including MiG-29 and Su-22 fighters, as well as antiquated T-72 tanks. When the procurement programme is complete, about 70 to 80 per cent of equipment will be modern.

The defence shopping list has 13 key programmes, the most expensive of which is building a short-range missile defence system that will cost anywhere from $5bn to $9bn, dwarfing the $3bn spent on acquiring US F-16 fighters – the previous record outlay for the Polish military.

The system will protect Poland against missiles not caught by the US-led missile defence system, which targets medium and long-range rockets. One perceived threat is Russia’s Iskander tactical missile system, which Moscow has threatened to deploy to its Kaliningrad region just north of Poland in response to US missile defence plans.

Three consortiums are reportedly vying for the contract, one of them led by France’s MBDA. Israel’s Rafael with its David’s Sling system and the US Patriot system built by Raytheon are its rivals. “So far it looks as though the Israelis are in the lead,” says one senior defence consultant.

Other big programmes include revamping the navy, which bought its last new ship in 1985, and buying new helicopters, transport planes, unmanned aerial “drones”, jet trainers, armoured personnel carriers and modernised tanks.

 

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