Polish military obtains first US Patriot missile systems, more to come

This week, Poland begins construction of its air-defense system, which will cost a total of €25 billion and include elements from U.S., British, and Polish systems

editor: Grzegorz Adamczyk
author: DGP

After receiving its first batch of Raytheon’s Patriot missile system, the Polish army is about to begin a system integration check (SICO) on the new weapon. In mid-November, after all elements of the missile system are assembled, the first battery — consisting of missile launchers, an engagement control station, and a radar — will be transported to the Artillery Training Center in Toruń in central Poland.

SICO is expected to be finished by the end of this year. In January 2023, the missile battery will be deployed to Sochaczew in central Poland. There, the Patriot system will be integrated with Northop Grumman’s Integrated Battle Command System (ICBS), and military personnel will be trained to use it. Both missile batteries will achieve operational readiness in early 2024.

The deal to acquire two Patriot batteries was signed in March 2018, with the system costing Poland €4.75 billion (20 billion zloty). This was the first phase of the Wisła medium-range air defense system program.

Polish Minister of Defense Mariusz Błaszczak sent a letter of request to the U.S. Foreign Military Sales in late May as a continuation of the program. Poland seeks to acquire the next six batteries that will include a new LTAMDS omnidirectional radar, as well as a logistical and training package.

The deal will most likely be signed in the next few months, and its value will be at least €10 billion. The initial deliveries are expected between 2026 and 2028. Eight Patriot batteries are to make up the Polish military’s key “upper layer” of the air-defense system.

The lower layer is the Narew short-range system, which will be manufactured by Polska Grupa Zbrojeniowa and British MBDA. The 23 planned batteries will reach an estimated cost of around €12 billion euro (60 billion zloty), and will be fully integrated with the Wisła system. The first two batteries will arrive in 2026, and four in each following year.

The lowest layer, with a range up to 20 kilometers, is the Pilica system, which was recently modified to include CAMM missile launchers along with the existing 23-millimeter cannon. This system will be able to target low-altitude enemy aircraft, including helicopters and drones and will also be fully inter-operational with both higher-level systems.

If Poland successfully signs those contracts in the following months, it will have one of the most modern, multi-layer air-defense systems in the world. Such a system will allow Poland to shoot down nearly every type of enemy aircraft or projectile, staring from a drone, followed by a helicopter or plane, and finally, missiles. The total cost of all layers in the system will be at least €25 billion (120 billion zloty).

American elements of the Patriot system are operating around Rzeszów Airport, 70 kilometers from Ukraine’s border, and were deployed by the U.S. following the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

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