Polish Ministry of Defence tries to bring the scope of the air-defence tender to the choice to the options proposed by the French and by the Americans. Meanwhile, the selection was made between the solutions proposed by Eurosam and Rayethon.
MoD’s Secretary of State, Czesław Mroczek, declared that it was a few months ago, when the commercial mode for the tender was called off (in that mode, the companies of the defence sector would be involved in the procedure). Negotiations were carried out directly with the authorities of the United States and France. On the other hand, the recommendation made by the Ministry of Defence, suggesting that negotiations at the inter-governmental level shall be started with the White House, was approved on 21st April this year. Meanwhile, the Armament Inspectorate states that it has a guarantee to ultimately receive the products, in line with the conditions in which they are delivered for the US Government. Such declarations were clearly made during the meeting that involved Minister Mroczek and Col. Adam Duda, both working for the Polish MoD.
The fact that the meeting was not related to the general negotiations with US side is clear – at the beginning of the procedure the American offer made by the Lockheed Martin company was rejected (the MEADS system). Israeli offers had been rejected earlier on. This had no grounds, other than the “operational-readiness” requirement – and the Patriot system in the variant which is required by the Polish MoD (unoficially referred to as Patriot POL) does not meet this requirement as well.
The most important deficiency of the Rayethon’s system is simple – it simply does not exist. Should Poland still be willing to acquire the Patriot POL batteries, it would be significantly expensive. The US have no official plans to base their air-defence system on the basis of this system. What is more, there are no indications that such plans would ever will be created.
Nobody notes the fact that while the price of the system offered by the Eurosam company – SAMP/T – is relatively stable, the Patriot costs have gone up, throughout the last year, with a 25% increase of the price. We should remember though that even if the EUR/USD exchange rate was shaped at the level of USD 1.387 per EUR 1, on 11th April, cost of one Euro was as little as USD 1.057. That means, in essence, that the US currency gained 23.8% in its value.
The currency exchange rate in the other direction is even worse. One dollar, a year ago, was an equivalent of EUR 0.721. Currently the value has gone up to EUR 0.946, which constitutes a 31.3% increase. Now we should make a consideration – is the Ministry of Defence ready to face that change in the currency exchange rate, and would it resign from anything – if the bill is going to by one third higher? This translates into a question – what requirements would be left aside, and how many of the PAC-3 MSE missiles are going to be included in the Polish Patriot units, in comparison with the PAC-2 GEM-T variant?
The Ministry of Defence only has stated that it is aware of the estimated value resulting from the earlier stages of the procedure. In both cases, the values are not different to a high extent. According to the Armament Inspectorate, both bidders agreed to maintain the price level set during the technical dialogue. However, we cannot simply ignore the currency exchange rates – Dollar rate, in relation to the exchange rate of the Polish zloty, has gone up by 23%, while Euro is significantly cheaper – showing only 5% of decrease.
Patriot or Patriot POL – what are we acquiring?
The whole chaos above makes it easy to hide the fact that the system that is currently available in the market, and that has been well proven, is not the system which is to be acquired by the Polish Ministry of Defence. Patriot POL system would require the following elements to be developed: radar, fire control system, Common Command Post, software, management, communication suite and finally, the vehicles.
All of the above elements have to be manufactured, after a thorough test programme is carried out. Meanwhile, the modernization programme in such a scope is not a part of the Pentagon’s budgetary plans.
We should also note that the Polish Ministry of Defence is not willing to acquire the latest variant of the Patriot system – the Patriot NG. The Ministry is willing to procure a system based on the non-existent Patriot NG suite, “tailored to the Polish needs”. This does not change the fact that such system is also non-existent, and development is a plan for the future. Ministry claims that “...we fit in most of the activities that have been already financed in the Patriot programme and they are ready and proven...”. The Ministry forgot to add the fact that the most important requirements – 360 degree radar coverage, net-centric capabilities, mobility and independence – are yet to be realized.
During a press meeting, representatives of the Ministry of Defence assured the journalists that Poland would be supported by the US, particularly within the scope of the net-centric capabilities. Information was released that USA is currently carrying out development works related to the new command system and that we got a declaration, that this segment, which would be implemented in the new Patriot system, along with the new, open architecture environment, would be provided for Poland free of charge - “change of the command system is not related to additional funding needed to realize this part of the solution”.
The journalists present during the meeting noted that transfer of the command system selected by the US Army would mean that Poland gets the system manufactured by the Northrop Grumman company. This system won the tender, the aim of which is to create this part of the future US air defences. Meanwhile, the Rayethon company offers its own command suite that was not offered for the US Army.
Ministry of Defence claimed: “The issue of the command system is still open. This is an intergovernmental deal. The government has declared that we would get a solution that would fit our needs. It was promised that no limitations would be present, should it turn out that in 2022 the Northrop Grumman system would constitute a solution”.
MoD also stated that the decision regarding the US-made system has not yet been taken. Meanwhile – it is just the other way. The Pentagon has already selected the Northrop Grumman, company, while the offer made by Raytheon has been definitively rejected. Will Raytheon accept the fact that the development of the command system would be carried out by a third party?
And still, yet another question remains – how did it happen that the Patriot POL system was selected, since we have no knowledge of the supplier of the command system, thus we have no knowledge of its structure or the way in which it would be functioning.
The missiles – only US made ones, no involvement of the Polish Industry
We already know that, in the nearest future, a programme the aim of which would be to develop cheaper LCI (Low Cost Interceptor) anti-aircraft missiles is going to be started – these missiles would be developed together with the Polish industry. Now it turns out that each unit (consisting of three launcher-vehicles) would be equipped with the PAC-2 GEM-T (Guidance Enhanced Missile-Tactical) missiles – offered by Rayethon – and the PAC-3 MSE (Missile Segment Enhancement) variant – manufactured by the Lockheed Martin company. And it was noted that no option exists to integrate these missiles with a single launcher. All that means that there is a need of making a choice – how many vehicles do we get with each type of the missile – the latest MSE missiles or the sector capable GEM/T variant.
Even if one assessed solely the missiles, we may see that even despite the declarations made by the Polish Ministry of Defence, no 360-degree coverage would be offered by the system. We would get a sector-capable missile system. This means that the Ministry of Defence accepted the fact that at least half of the areas of Poland, that are considered to have a strategic value, would not be defended. In the light of the available funds, only three or four strategic centres would be defended, considering the number of the acquired batteries.
The radar – do we know what are we talking about?
The missile tender gets even worse, when it comes to the radar, which, in its latest version is to receive only two additional side phased arrays, that could be used for 360 degree coverage, however, without any guarantee that detection parameters would be the same in every direction. The Patriot system would be fully capable within the scope of the coverage provided by the “old” main arrays. The side-looking phased arrays antennas would also increase the cost of the radar – since the phased arrays are the most expensive element of any radar. And we would have to procure three such arrays.
When it comes to that issue, the MoD’s representatives surprised everybody, saying that “currently a prototype of a new radar, featuring new arrays, based on gallium nitride, not gallium arsenide, has been developed – hence the risk is minimized – in our opinion the requirements would be met by 2022”.
The official information provided by the Rayethon website claims otherwise – according to the press release issued in February 2015, the presentation of one of the phased arrays took place – it is the early stage. No prototype, not even a model of such radar exists.
The information provided by the Ministry means that the US engineers have created another phased arrays, implemented the IFF systems and mounted both these systems on the old radar, and even started a test programme. This is far from being possible.
The Ministry of Defence did not mention the fact that the Polish radar industry received a system based on gallium nitride. This declaration was made by the French, which would lead to a generation leap in the Polish defence industry, and this would open the markets in whole Europe. So far, Rayethon only mentioned subcontracting of the IFF system for the radars.
And the final question remains - what would happen if the US select a radar which is different from the one proposed for Poland. The Armament Inspectorate replies: “We are going to have our own radar”.
According to the theories created by the Inspectorate: “a 360-degree coverage, rotating antenna radar, featured in the MEADS system, has no capabilities of destroying the missiles, without additional radar that could be used for initial detection” - this statement means that the Armed Forces did not believe in the anti-missile capabilities of the MEADS and the SAMP/T systems, utilizing the rotating antennas.
The Armament Inspectorate also stressed the fact that the “French offer featured the Arabel radar, with 80 km of range”. We should also recall the fact that the French proposed to co-develop the Polish “Wisła” radar, together with the PIT-RADWAR company. And that radar would feature an active phased-array with a proper range.
The critical statements regarding the Patriot systems also came from the politicians, e.g. from the Marshal of the Parliament, Radosław Sikorski. He answered the question “Do you think that the Patriot system is the best on the market?” in a following way: “Yes. According to the Ministry of Defence”.
No involvement of the Polish industry
Decision to acquire the Patriot radar made the situation more difficult for the Polish radar industry. The Americans have not declared that they would manufacture the radar transmitter-receiver modules in Poland – contrary to the French. In this way Poland will not be able to continue its own programme which was realized with the budgetary assets, involved millions of zlotys and that is fairly advanced now. MoD’s decisions mean that the allocated assets may be lost, while the “Narew” and the “Wisła” radar programmes would be cancelled.
No official guarantees were made, according to which the Polish industry would be able to manufacture medium range air defence systems in the future – hence there are no prospects for the industry to be independent. The Rayethon company has already signed letters of intent with numerous Polish companies, however, the technology transfer needs to be assured by the US government.
Participation of the Polish industry in the “Wisła” programme shall exceed 50%, which means that the offset agreement is also to cover – within a large extent – the missile manufacturing process (cost of the missiles constitutes ca. 70% of the cost of the batteries). Poland may undertake – with certain limitations – production of the GEM-T missiles, along with the maintenance process. When it comes to the PAC-3MSE missiles, manufacturing them is not even being considered (beside certain components).
The Armament Inspectorate also issued a specific declaration: “Here, we are speaking of an inter-governmental deal. This means that we would get the products in line with conditions that would not be worse than the conditions that were guaranteed to the US government”. However, this is not applicable when it comes to the offset which is to be negotiated between the Polish Armament Group (coordinating the project) and the Rayethon and Lockheed Martin companies. It may turn out that when it comes to the issue of the technology transfer, the Polish industry would have to deal with it on its own, without any support of the US government.
The worst signal, within the whole “Wisła” programme tender, is posed by the US declaration, claiming that if we acquire the Patriots, the Pentagon is going to deploy additional air defences within our territory. According to the Gazeta Wyborcza daily: “the fact that the US government declared, that the batteries stationed in other parts of Europe would be deployed in Poland 48 hours from emergence of a potential threat, was of key importance when it comes to the selection of the Rayethon’s offer.”
In that way the alliance agreement between the NATO allies was diminished to a trade contract, and our security is dependent on bank transfers which would be received by the US based companies.