Poland is ordering additional MANPAD class systems, known as the Piorun (“thunderbolt” in Polish), in order to augment its air defense capabilities, with an obvious eye to the conflict in Ukraine.
The MESKO SA company was awarded the contract to provide the Piorun systems by the Polish Ministry of Defense, informed Minister Mariusz Błaszczak.
“We are systematically increasing the anti-aircraft capabilities of the Polish Armed Forces. The awarded contract for the Piorun anti-aircraft missile sets will be increased, and the deliveries will be carried out in the following years. This will allow us to maintain continuity of production in our defense industry,” Błaszczak posted on Twitter.
The spokesman for the Armament Agency, lieutenant colonel Krzysztof Płatek, noted that so far Poland ordered MESKO’s 1300 missiles and 420 Piorun launch devices, which will be delivered in 2023.
MESKO SA is a producer of ammunition and anti-armour, anti-aircraft missiles based in Skarżysko-Kamienna in southern Poland.
The contract is to be “amended and extended for the coming years,” and the orders will “utilize the factual production capabilities of the contractor to a high extent,” meaning that Mesko S.A. will produce Piorun missiles and an adequate amount of launch devices at full capacity.
The Polish MoD ordered Pioruns in December 2016 and the deliveries were to arrive in the years 2017-2022.
Announcing of the contract is not surprising, considering the situation in Ukraine and Poland sending an undisclosed number of Piorun systems to the country that were produced in the recent years for use in Polish Armed Forces. Those systems will need replacing, and the total number will probably also need to be increased, due to the announced build-up of the Polish military.
The weapon is produced by Poland’s domestic defense industry, which means Poland will be able to boost its own economy while ensuring a degree of self-reliance. The weapon already proved itself in Ukraine, where, according to reports, it was used to shoot down multiple Mi-24 helicopters, Su-25s and even the Su-34 heavy tactical bombers. Polish Piorun systems are highly appraised by the Ukrainian military for their remarkable efficiency.
The Piorun MANPADS was made as the result of a development work initiated in 2010 and all the technical solutions are fully controlled by Poland. Next to the portable systems, Pioruns can be used in the launchers of Pilica and Poprad systems, and after being modified, on Biała and Jodek-G systems.
Pioruns were chosen this year by the U.S. Armed Forces and will replace the existing Stinger systems.