WARSAW, Poland — Poland's ministry of defense has highlighted bolstering missile defense as one of the priorities of its ongoing military modernization in the years 2017 to 2022. The country has accelerated efforts to enhance its missile-defense capability following Russia's annexation of Crimea.

Warsaw aims to spend some $10 billion to acquire mid-range air- and missile-defense systems, and over $5 billion on short-range air-defense systems, according to Polish Deputy Defense Minister Bartosz Kownacki.

Poland's Defense Minister Antoni Macierewicz has said that the country will most likely sign a deal with the US government and Raytheon to acquire Patriot interceptors. The announcement came following the signing of a letter of intent between the manufacturer and Poland's state-owned defense group PGZ.

Meanwhile, local observers point out that the Polish acquisition plans could be seen as a reaction to Russia's upgrade of its missile capabilities in Kaliningrad, a Russian exclave that borders Poland and Lithuania, through the deployment of 9K720 Iskander short-range ballistic missiles.

According to various estimates, the Russian missile system could be enabled with a maximum range of 500 km, allowing to strike both Poland's and Lithuania's capitals.

"We also need to have an answer to it. Those Iskander missiles can hit Poland but also Germany," Macierewicz said May 17, as earlier reported by Defense News.

That said, Poland is unlikely to obtain the first Patriot systems any earlier than 2022, local analysts say.

Warsaw is also to host elements of the Aegis Ashore program, the land-based component of the Aegis ballistic missile defense (BMD) system. Aegis Ashore is to be deployed on Polish soil in 2018 as part of the Phased Adaptive Approach (PAA) Phase III. This technology will use Aegis BMD 5.1 and the SM-3 Block IB and IIA interceptors to cover northern Europe, according to the Missile Defense Agency (MDA).

Jaroslaw Adamowski is the Poland correspondent for Defense News.

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