Poland wants to acquire joint air-to-surface standoff missiles for its fleet of F-16s. (Lockheed Martin via US Air Force)
WARSAW — Poland, now more focused on strengthening its precision strike and deterrence capacity, is in talks with the US to acquire AGM-158 joint air-to-surface standoff missiles (JASSMs) for its fleet of F-16 Block 52+ fighter jets.
The missiles, manufactured by Lockheed Martin, are expected to expand the fighters’ strike range from 70 kilometers to as much as 370 kilometers.
Poland’s requirement for AGM-158 JASSMs is gaining momentum. In April, Polish Defense Minister Tomasz Siemoniak said the acquisition requires a “decision by the US” which is “expected in the short term.
“We are currently implementing this procedure, but it seems that things will work out fine,” Siemoniak told local news agency PAP, referring to the obligatory approval of the foreign arms sale by US decision-makers.
Under the plan, Poland is planning to acquire up to 200 missiles for its fighter jets.
Meanwhile, with the crisis in neighboring Ukraine intensifying, the Polish Defense Ministry is planning to accelerate a number of procurements to bolster its deterrence capacity, according to senior government officials.
“[These include] the acquisition of the JASSM for the F-16s, and long-range missile launchers ... under the Homar program,” Polish Deputy Defense Minister Czeslaw Mroczek told PAP.
The Homar missile launchers are designed to cover a range of up to 300 kilometers.
Under Poland’s strategy to modernize its armed forces by 2022, the country is aiming to spend about 130 billion zloty (US $42.4 billion) to upgrade weapons and military equipment. The amount of the JASSM procurement was not disclosed by Polish officials.
Poland’s drive to purchase the missiles is related to its tough stance against Russia’s military intervention in eastern Ukraine. Along with the Baltic states, the Polish government has been one of the most vocal critics of the Russian annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea, calling for tougher sanctions against Moscow.
The JASSM purchase is part of the ministry’s deterrence program, which has four integral elements: special forces overhaul, naval strike missile, the acquisition of new UAVs and the JASSM procurement. The projects are expected to bolster Poland’s deterrence capacity, according to Siemoniak.
The program, dubbed Polish Claws, was first announced by Prime Minister Donald Tusk in June 2013 in a bid to “effectively deter potential enemies.” ■