Head of the Polish Ministry of Defence, Mariusz Błaszczak recently announced that the Ministry has engaged in talks with Sweden, regarding the procurement of an airborne early warning platform for Poland. More details on that matter have been unveiled during the Defence24 DAY conference. The issue was discussed by the Air Force Inspector, brig. gen. Ireneusz Nowak, during a presentation concerning the modernization of the Polish Air Force.
Poland is to procure the existing Saab 340 AEW platform from Sweden, to fulfil the Urgent Operational Requirement. Two aircraft are expected to be acquired. The procurement mode suggests a rapid delivery, with the aircraft filling in the capability gap when it comes to airborne early warning.
The Saab 340 AEW platform has been used by the Swedish Air Force since the 1990s, and they have also been sold to UAE or Saudi Arabia. The Swedish aircraft as such underwent an upgrade, as the current configuration was fielded in 2010. They also remain interoperational, with NATO and Link 16 compliance - and these capabilities have been confirmed and proven. The Swedes intend to replace these with a new GlobalEye platform that offers more capabilities - these have been ordered in 2021.
Speaking to Defence24.pl, the spokesperson for the Armament Agency, Lt. Col Krzysztof Płatek confirmed that the procurement concerns existing aircraft. They would be upgraded, so that they comply with the Polish Air Force requirements. We do not know who is the former user. The procurement talks do involve Saab.
The delivery of Saab 340s would be a reinforcement for the Air Force, in the short term at least. Even the legacy Saab 340 AEW would provide the air force with the ability to detect low-flying threats, such as cruise missiles, at several hundred kilometres, instead of 40 to 50 kilometres range associated with ground-based radars (threat flying at an altitude of approimately 300 feet, in good conditions).
Poland does use the NATO and allied AEW assets, even more extensively after the beginning of the full-scale war in Ukraine, but that involvement remains insufficient to provide continuous coverage of the threatened area. In all likehood, currently however there is no sufficient number of assets available to provide 24/7 support in this mission set, at least not for an extended period of time and along the entire Polish Eastern and North-Eastern borders. The Armament Agency does not rule out a scenario in which brand-new aircraft as such, of even greater capability, are procured in the future.