WARSAW, Poland — The Polish Ministry of National Defence has awarded a contract worth 932 million zloty (US $220 million) to local defense company Mesko for new Piorun  short-range man-portable air defense systems for the country's military. 

Polish Defense Minister Antoni Macierewicz said at the official signing ceremony on Dec. 20 that the new systems are to "protect Poland, and not threaten or attack anyone." The first brigades will obtain these weapons later this year.

"Under the deal, the Polish Armed Forces will acquire 1,300 missiles and 420 missile launchers," Macierewicz said, as quoted in a statement released by the Defense Ministry.

The Piorun, translated roughly to thunderbolt, is an upgraded version of the Grom MANPAD. Based in Skarzysko-Kamienna, in Poland's south, Mesko is a subsidiary of Poland's state-run defense group PGZ. The company specializes in making missile systems and ammunition.

On a related note, Polish Deputy Defense Minister Bartosz Kownacki said on Dec. 20 that he has obtained a letter of acceptance to acquire Joint Air-To-Surface Standoff Missiles Extended Range (JASSM-ER) for the Polish Air Force's F-16 fighter jets. The procurement is to be implemented under the foreign military sales program. The JASSM is produced by Lockheed Martin. 

In addition to 70 AGM 158A JASSM-ER missiles, Warsaw is also to obtain the AIM-120 Advanced Medium-Range Air-To-Air Missile (AMRAAM) and AIM-9X Sidewinder missiles. The  Polish government sees the acquisitions as one of the country's key military procurement programs, and a crucial part of its efforts to ramp up the country's defenses against an increasingly belligerent Russia. 

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