Poland’s Acquisition of Patriot Missiles: The First Step in Revamping Soviet Era Defensive Systems

08/20/2018
By Sarah Zettinger and Michael Chiasson

To replace dated weaponry from the Cold War and take a step into the future, Poland signed a $4.75 billion deal with United States defense company Raytheon to purchase a state of the art Patriot missile defense system that will be the largest Polish weapons deal in history. President Andrzej Duda called it a “historic” movement towards Polish evolution in defense as it joined “an elite group of states which have an efficient weapon that guarantees security [5].”

The Patriot is a surface to air missile defense system that contains different technologies and sensors that collaborate to detect and destroy missiles, manned and unmanned aircraft, and other airborne threats. The Patriot missile defense system is popular and is used as a base system by 15 nations worldwide, including the Netherlands, Japan, Germany, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Taiwan, Greece, Spain, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, and Romania. It is frequently upgraded for each nation’s use to fight against unique and perpetually changing threats [3]. In addition to the deal with Poland, Raytheon, the producer of the Patriot air missile defense system, is set to add Sweden to the list as well with a deal that; “is approximately valued at $1.13 billion, which includes four Patriot Configuration 3+ modernized firing units and their subsequent parts along with an undisclosed number of missiles [6].”

Since the end of the Cold War, Poland has lagged in upgraded missile technology, and with tensions rising with Russia, the country was on the lookout for ways to develop its subpar defense system. Delivery is expected in 2022, so the country has sufficient time to set up the systems before the missiles arrive. In addition to the two Patriot batteries, Poland hopes to acquire additional Patriot fire units, gallium nitride-based 360-degree active electronically scanned array radar, and a low cost interceptor missile called SkyCeptor, significantly bolstering their defensive capabilities [1].

The reasoning behind Poland’s sudden acceleration is thought to have been supported by the expulsion of Russian diplomats from numerous countries, following the poisoning of a former spy in the UK on March 4th. This, coupled with Russia’s formidable nuclear arsenal, demonstrates the more recent threats Russia poses to other countries, and Poland is not alone. Recent aggression has sparked a greater response with countries along Russia’s border [4].

However, while Poland sees the action of buying missiles as a necessary part of stepping into the new age as well as calming concerns about its unruly neighbor, Russia sees the purchase of the Patriot system, especially from the US, as undermining the stability of central Europe [4]. They deny involvement with the poisoning but have deployed more missiles in the city of Kaliningrad [2], seemingly as a defensive maneuver. This has worried NATO and the surrounding countries, Poland especially. As a measured response to the increase of weaponry on their borders, Russia itself has beefed up its weapons division and scaled up development on weapons that it boasts could evade US defensive systems [4]. Whether this statement has any truth or backing is unknown, but Russia’s tendency towards action rather than reaction is well known.

Though generally an optimistic country, Poland is also a self-proclaimed realist. The future is steady for now and in the foreseeable future, but negotiations are only the first step towards the new Europe and even then an agreement was hard to reach. As long as Russia continues to pose a threat to Polish security, Poland, along with surrounding Baltic States, will be forced to update their lacking defensive capabilities, which date back to when Poland was in the Moscow led Warsaw Pact to ensure its long term survival [4].

 

[1] Judson, J. (2018, March 28). Poland officially signs deal to buy Patriot from US. Retrieved from https://www.defensenews.com/land/2018/03/28/poland-officially-signs-deal-to-buy-patriot-from-us/

[2] Poland signs $4.75bn deal to buy US Patriot missiles. (2018, March 28). Retrieved from http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-43574308

[3] Raytheon: Global Patriot Solutions. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.raytheon.com/capabilities/products/patriot

[4] Waldoch, M., & Strzelecki, M. (2018, March 28). U.S. to Deliver Missile Shield to Poland, Irritating Putin. Retrieved from https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-03-28/poland-signs-4-75-billion-patriot-missile-deal-with-u-s

[5] Welle, D. (2018, March 28). Poland buys $4.75 billion Patriot missile system from U.S. Retrieved August 20, 2018, from https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2018/03/28/poland-buys-4-75-billion-patriot-missile-system-u-s/465212002/

[6] Zacks Equity Research. (2018, June 01). Raytheon (RTN) to Gain From US-Sweden $1.1B Deal for Patriot. Retrieved from https://www.nasdaq.com/article/raytheon-rtn-to-gain-from-us-sweden-11b-deal-for-patriot-cm972282