Poland is a major US trading partner in Central Europe and a key importer of American defense technology and weaponry.
Among Poland's biggest acquisitions are: Patriot missiles ($4.75 billion), F-16 fighter jets ($3.5 billion), and JASSM cruise missiles with F-16 modernization ($250 million).
Following Russian aggression against Ukraine in 2014, Poland began an ambitious program to modernize its military which still has aging Soviet-era equipment.
Warsaw’s military modernization program includes plans to purchase more Patriot missiles, a 360-degree radar, low-cost interceptor missiles, HIMARS missile launchers, and attack helicopters.
POLISH PURCHASES OF AMERICAN DEFENSE TECHNOLOGY
In March 2018, Poland signed an agreement to buy Raytheon Co.’s Patriot missile defense system. Two batteries, each with two fire units, will be delivered in 2022 and could become operational by 2024.
Amounting to $4.75 billion, this was the largest arms procurement agreement in Poland’s history. (The figure is approximately half of Poland’s annual defense budget). As part of the deal, US companies (Lockheed, Martin, and Northrop-Grumman) agreed to approximately $280 million inoffsets.
F-16 Fighter Jets and JASSM Missiles
On April 18, 2003, Poland signed an agreement to purchase forty-eight F-16 C/D fighter jets(manufactured by Lockheed Martin). The other competitors in the final round of the bid were Sweden’s Gripen and France’s Mirage.
Poland agreed to pay $3.5 billion for the aircraft, making the agreement the “largest arms purchase by a former Soviet-bloc country since the cold war ended.”
The deal also included a $6.3-billion offset package involving investments in Poland by Lockheed Martin and other American companies (Poland insisted on an offset component because it is a relatively poor country for which a $3.5-billion arms contract is a major expenditure). The offsetinvolved thirty separate projects and was eventually completed in May 2015.
The 48 F-16s were delivered to Poland between November 2006 and December 2008 in batches.
Polish F-16s have taken part in anti-ISIS aerial reconnaissance missions over Iraq and Syria in 2016 as well as in Baltic Air Policing in 2017 (see fact sheet on Poland’s out-of-area security contributions).
In December 2014, the US and Poland also signed a $250-million contract for the purchase of forty AGM-158A JASSMs (air-launched cruise missiles) by Warsaw and the modernization of Poland’s F-16s by the US.
In December 2017, the US Department of State approved a $200-million possible contract for F-16 follow-on support and sustaining services.
Future Purchase Plans
Poland is negotiating with the US to purchase more Patriot missiles, a low-cost interceptor missile, and 360-degree radar to facilitate the second phase of the Polish military’s modernization program.
The Polish government has accelerated negotiations to acquire Lockheed Martin’s HIMARS multiple missile launchers – along with precision-guided munitions (GMLRS and ATACMS) – for Poland’s Homar (“Lobster”) system of self-propelled rocket artillery. Hoping to obtain the launchers faster and at a lower price, the Poles decided to follow Romania’s lead and forego the usual offset.
Warsaw wishes to purchase thirty-two Western attack helicopters to replace its aging Soviet-era Mi-24s. The value of the contract would be approximately 10 billion PLN (approx. $2.71 billion). The Poles are considering two American models (the AH1 Viper and the AH-64 Apache) and one European (the Eurocopter 665 Tiger), although the Polish defense ministry is reportedly most interested in the Apache.
The Poles are considering purchasing additional F- 16s to replace its Su-22s and MiG-29s. Although Warsaw decided against buying additional F-16s of the A/B version, it remains interested in more advanced versions, such as the F-16V.