LONDON – The British government announced new defense collaborations with Poland and the Ukraine on the back of a visit to the two Eastern European nations by Defence Secretary Ben Wallace this week.
Poland announced Nov. 18 that it had selected MBDA’s Common Anti-air Modular Missile (CAMM) and launcher as the centerpiece of its multibillion-dollar NAREW air defense system program being developed and led-by local company PGZ.
During a visit to the Ukraine, meanwhile, the British said the two sides had made progress in talks over a modernization plan for the nation’s navy.
The Polish government has previously described the NAREW program as the largest and most complex modernization program in the history of the Polish Armed Forces.
The envisioned air defense procurement is part of a large scale modernization of Polish armed forces which has seen them acquire a raft of new weapons recently, including Patriot anti-missile systems, F-35 combat jets, frigates for the Navy and an order for 250 Abrams tanks.
PGZ and its local partners will develop radar and other key systems for the air defense system, with MBDA providing the missile and launcher technology to enable the systems to be sourced by local industry.
Chris Allam, the managing director of MBDA UK, said the agreement “endorses the deep relationship we have formed with Poland’s Ministry of National Defence and Polish industry and is underpinned by the nature of our unprecedented technology cooperation and transfer proposal for NAREW and Polish air defence.”
CAMMS was originally developed for the British military and has already been acquired by the British Army and the Royal Navy. The missile has also secured several export orders.
MBDA’s offer beat out rival bids involving Israeli, Norwegian, U.S. and other companies.
The British said the statement of intent was a landmark moment for British-Polish defense relations.
Meeting with his counterpart and other top Polish officials Nov. 18 Wallace said the agreement “will deliver a step change in our defense cooperation with Poland and paves the way for our militaries to operate even more closely.”
The co-operation was further boosted by the British announcing they were deploying up to 150 military engineers to support Polish troops and police on the border with Belarus.
A major crisis is unfolding on the border as the government of Alexander Lukashenko in Minsk seeks to undermine Poland, Latvia and Lithuania in retaliation for European Union sanctions that were imposed in the summer.
Against a background of rising tensions with Russia over a potential invasion of the Ukraine and the migrant crisis with Belarus, Wallace was in Poland on the last leg of a three day tour which also included visits to Rome and the Ukraine.
The Ukraine visit also generated good news for the British defense sector with the two governments announcing they had had made progress towards agreeing a deal to substantially upgrade Ukrainian Navy warships and base facilities.
The British are providing a £1.7 billion ($2.3 billion) loan to help recapitalize Ukrainian naval capabilities.
Included in the program are two refurbished ex-Royal Navy minesweepers, missiles, new warships the development of new naval facilities along with various support and training packages.
Earlier this year British warship builder and support-services company Babcock International signed a tripartite memorandum of implementation (MoI) with the Ukraine ministry of defense and the British government to pursue the upgrade.
In a statement released by Babcock at the time the company said the program includes the “enhancement of capabilities on existing naval platforms, the delivery of new platforms, including fast attack missile craft, a modern frigate capability, shipborne armaments and the training of naval personnel.”