LONDON – A British air-defense system that has only been in service for a few months is being deployed to Poland to bolster that country’s capabilities, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace announced during a visit to Warsaw March 17.
The move is part of a wider upgrade of NATO assets in Poland and elsewhere in Eastern Europe, which has seen personnel and equipment deployed to the region to deter possible Russian aggression.
“The deployment of Sky Sabre medium-range, anti-air system to Poland with 100 personnel will help protect her airspace from any further aggression from Russia,” Wallace said following a meeting with his Polish counterpart, Mariusz Blaszczak.
Late last year London and Warsaw announced they had signed a letter of intent to develop a Polish air defense system based on Sky Sabre.
The British have yet to announce when they expect to field the system, but it is thought likely the deployment will not last longer than six months.
Provision of the system for duties in Poland is possible because a long-planned delivery to the British Army is being accelerated.
The Sky Sabre deployment is the second British initiative to bolster Eastern European nations’ air defenses.
Earlier this month the British revealed they had agreed in principle to provide StarStreak short-range air defense missiles to the Ukraine, Poland’s neighbor to the east.
The MBDA-developed Sky Sabre system officially took over from the Rapier missile as Britain’s medium-range, anti-air weapon at the start of this year. The weapon is already to be deployed in the Falkland Island as part of the British territories’ defenses.
The system comprises the Sky Sabre missile alongside a Saab-built Giraffe agile, multi-beam surveillance radar and Rafael command-and-control equipment.
Meanwhile, the German defense ministry announced Thursday it would supply Poland’s southern neighbor Slovakia with Patriot air-defense capabilities. Officials in Berlin declined to provide details, citing security concerns. Slovakia shares a border with Ukraine measuring roughly 60 miles north to south.
The commitment follows through on a pledge by Germany to also deploy a company-strong Army formation for an “enhanced vigilance activity battlegroup” to Slovakia. The unit is expected to grow to a full battlegroup size by April.
Sebastian Sprenger in Washington contributed to this report.
Andrew Chuter is the United Kingdom correspondent for Defense News.