WARSAW, Poland — Polish Defense Minister Mariusz Błaszczak has announced his country is launching the second phase of its mid-range air defense program by requesting the U.S. government to sell it six Patriot batteries with related gear.
“We are advancing the contract on the second phase of the Wisła air defense program. I have signed a letter of request related to an acquisition of three divisions, or six batteries of the Patriot system, which will include omnidirectional radars, missile launchers, and a stock of missiles,” Błaszczak said at the Defence24 Day conference in Warsaw, as quoted in a tweet released by the Ministry of National Defence.
According to industry sources at the event, the “omnidirectional” sensor in question is the Raytheon-developed Lower-Tier Air-and-Missile Defense Sensor, or LTAMDS, which the manufacturer has named GhostEye.
The value of the planned procurement was not disclosed. The first Patriot contract, under which two Configuration 3+ batteries are to be delivered to Warsaw this year, came with a $4.75 billion price tag.
Last month, Błaszczak declared Poland will boost its efforts to develop short- and mid-range air defense capacities in relation to Russia’s invasion of its neighbor Ukraine.
“We draw lessons from what is happening across our eastern border,” the minister said while unveiling Poland’s acquisition of MBDA’s Common Anti-air Modular Missile, or CAMM, for the country’s envisioned Narew short-range air defense system.
“We see how important is the role played … by air defense, anti-aircraft defense. This is why we significantly accelerated the delivery of the Narew short-range air defense system to the Polish military,” Błaszczak said.
The necessity for upgraded air-and-missile defense systems in Europe has grown more urgent, as Russia continues to wage war on Poland’s neighbor Ukraine. Retired Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges, a former U.S. Army Europe Commander, frequently sounded the alarm for greater air-and-missile defense capability in Europe during his tenure and has vocally renewed that push in recent months as Eastern Europe looks to better protect itself from possible Russian attacks.
After years of laboring over details of a complex air-and-missile defense procurement deal, Poland signed a letter of offer and acceptance in March 2018 with the U.S. government to buy Raytheon’s Patriot system currently in use by the U.S. Army.
Poland would initially buy – for the Wisla program – two Patriot Configuration 3+ batteries, the latest version of the system. There are two fire units per battery, so Raytheon would deliver four fire units total.
The systems in the first phase have yet to be delivered to the Polish government but, according to an industry source, the first battery will be delivered to Poland to support a system integration and checkout exercise in October, and the second will be turned over to the U.S. government by the end of the calendar year.
It was also agreed that the first systems would have Northrop Grumman’s Integrated Battle Command System, or IBCS, which is currently in initial operational test and evaluation by the U.S. Army. Poland obtained a waiver to procure IBCS for Patriot ahead of the U.S. Army’s procurement for its future Integrated Air and Missile Defense System at the time of the deal.
The U.S. Army expects to wrap up the testing in September and a full-rate production decision is expected in fiscal 2023.
The Poles have said they wanted 360-degree detection capability in the radar, which the current Patriot lacks, and the country said it intended to follow the U.S. Army’s lead and acquire the same radar.
The request comes at a time when the U.S. Army is just beginning to receive its first LTAMDS from Raytheon. The first radar has arrived at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico, the first of six to be delivered to government test sites this year, Raytheon said in a statement.
Editor’s note: This story was updated with details about the radar system that is part of the requested U.S. Patriot package for Poland.
Jaroslaw Adamowski is the Poland correspondent for Defense News.
Jen Judson is an award-winning journalist covering land warfare for Defense News. She has also worked for Politico and Inside Defense. She holds a Master of Science degree in journalism from Boston University and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Kenyon College.