Polish Defense Minister Mariusz Błaszczak has announced his country is launching the second phase of its mid-range air defense program by requesting the U.S. government to sell it six Patriot batteries with related gear.
NATO member Poland has accelerated efforts to overhaul its ageing weaponry following Moscow’s annexation of Ukraine invasion in 2022. Two-thirds of Poland’s weaponry dates from the Cold War era when it was in the Soviet-led Warsaw Pact.
“We are advancing the contract on the second phase of the Wisła air defense program. I have signed a letter of request related to an acquisition of three divisions, or six batteries of the Patriot system, which will include omnidirectional radars, missile launchers, and a stock of missiles,” Błaszczak said at the Defence24 Day conference in Warsaw, as quoted in a tweet released by the Ministry of National Defense.
Air defenses are particularly important for Poland and neighboring Baltic states Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia.
NATO planners say Russia is using its Baltic enclave of Kaliningrad as well as Crimea to pursue the capability to block off NATO’s air access to the Baltic states, about a third of Poland and to the Black Sea.
In 2018, Poland signed a $4.75 billion (€3.8 billion) contract to purchase the U.S.-made Patriot anti-missile system after several years of negotiations.
“We are signing today a contract to deliver a modern system that has proven itself in numerous countries and thanks to which we are joining an elite group of states which have an efficient weapon that guarantees security,” said Polish Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak.
The U.S. State Department approved the sale of the Patriot missile defense system to Poland in November with a price tag of $10.5 billion for four radar sets, 16 launching stations, 208 PAC-3 Missile Segment Enhancement (MSE) and additional related equipment and training. Shortly after taking office as defense minister, Blaszczak said in January that that Poland had obtained a lower price and accelerated delivery time.
Polish President Andrzej Duda’s office said the value of the previous deal signed is $4.75 billion.
The Patriot is a mobile air-defence system made by U.S. defense firm Raytheon and designed to intercept tactical ballistic missiles, low-flying cruise missiles and aircraft.
The MIM-104 Patriot is a surface-to-air missile (SAM) system, the primary of its kind used by the United States Army and several allied nations. It is manufactured by the U.S. defence contractor Raytheon and derives its name from the radar component of the weapon system. The AN/MPQ-53 at the heart of the system is known as the “Phased Array Tracking Radar to Intercept on Target” which is a backronym for PATRIOT. The Patriot system replaced the Nike Hercules system as the U.S. Army’s primary High to Medium Air Defense (HIMAD) system and replaced the MIM-23 Hawk system as the U.S. Army’s medium tactical air defence system. In addition to these roles, Patriot has been given the function of the U.S. Army’s anti-ballistic missile (ABM) system, which is now Patriot’s primary mission. The system is expected to stay fielded until at least 2040.
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