The Patriot missiles, produced by American company Raytheon, beat off competition from the MBDA and Thales consortium which was offering Aster 30 missiles for the ‘Wisła’ [Vistula] tender, the anti-ballistic missile component of Poland’s planned defence shield.
A total of eight Patriot batteries will be delivered by 2025, with two of these delivered within three years of the contract being signed. As part of the agreement the Polish defence industry will gain technology which will allow it to independently maintain the system once delivered.
Although no official figures have been confirmed it is estimated that the Patriot contract will be worth PLN 10-12 billion (EUR 2.5-3 billion).
President Bronisław Komorowski stated that the details would be negotiated directly between the US and Poland, with Defence Minister Tomasz Siemoniak due to visit the US this May.
The tender for the related anti-aircraft ‘Narew’ missile tender, named after a tributary river of the Vistula, is yet to be decided.
French helicopters chosen
Meanwhile it was also announced that Poland would purchase 50 Eurocopter EC725 helicopters, produced by France-based Airbus Helicopters.
Three firms were competing in the tender for multi-task military helicopters, which apart from Airbus consisted of the Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation and Agusta Westland PZL Świdnik.
It had previously been expected that Poland would buy 70 helicopters, but the government has decided to delay purchasing some of the planned transport helicopters as Soviet-built Mi-17 helicopters currently in use by the Polish Armed Forces can remain in service for the immediate future.
The Eurocopter order consists of 34 ‘specialized’ helicopters for anti-submarine warfare, the Special Forces and medical evacuations, with 16 pure transport ones.
According to the deputy head of the Ministry of Defence, Czesław Mroczek, the revised helicopter order is worth PLN 13 billion (EUR 3.2 billion) and the helicopters will be delivered within two years.
Mixed reactions at home
However, not all were pleased with the decision. Andrzej Duda, the opposition Law and Justice’s (PIS) presidential candidate, criticized the choice of a foreign firm for the helicopter tender and argued that the government should have gone for Polish produced helicopters.
Krzysztof Krystowski, the CEO of PZL Agusta-Westland Świdnik, said his company will consider the decision from a legal perspective and criticized the economic consequences of choosing a French firm.
The trade union at the PZL factory is thought to be planning a protest in Warsaw to try and invalidate the decision. (sl/nh)