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Land Forces

Polish Piorun MANPADS in Croatia

Photo. MESKO S.A.

Soldiers of the 3rd „City of Warsaw” Air Defence Missile Brigade took part in an exercise in Croatia. The event saw the use of Piorun man-portable air defence systems, which are being used in combat in Ukraine. The system has also been sold to several NATO partner nations.

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The participation of soldiers from the 3rd „City of Warsaw" Air Defence Missile Brigade was announced in a brief statement by the General Command of the Armed Forces. The exercise conducted on Cape Kamenjak in Croatia has been held yearly for the past 28 years. It is hosted by the Air Defence Regiment of the Croatian Army. This year soldiers from Poland, Slovenia, the US and France also took part in the event.

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Lt. Jacek Piotrowski, spokesperson of the 3rd Brigade, told Defence24.com that Polish soldiers had undertaken live firing practice with their Piorun (Pol. "thunderbolt") MANPADS. The 38th Air Defence Support Battalion, which is a part of the Brigade, participated in the exercise. In addition to Piorun launchers (including some fitted with electro-optical targeting systems) the event saw the use of older Grom MANPADS simulator equipment. The Polish solutions were also presented to other participants of the exercise.

Photo. MORH/T. Brandt

The Croatian hosts brought out Bov-3 20mm anti-aircraft cannons, while the American participants demonstrated the use of non-kinetic counter-UAS systems. The Croatian military also fields Igla-1 MANPADS. The Croatian Armed Forces also purchased French Mistral-3 systems following last year's crash of a jet-powered unmanned aircraft on Croatian soil.

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The Piorun system, which is replacing the older Grom in the Polish military, is one of the best-known products of the Polish defence industry. Piorun was purchased by the US, Norway, Estonia and an unnamed Baltic state (unofficial reports suggest this may be Latvia). These systems are also being delivered to Ukraine, both as Polish military aid as well as through commercial sales (Kyiv recently made an order for additional missiles). In combat Piorun turned out to be highly effective against manned threats such as Su-25 and Su-34 combat aircraft, attack helicopters like the Mi-24/35 and Ka-52, as well as unmanned aerial systems (UAS).

Photo. MORH/T. Brandt

Piorun was developed by a consortium consisting of Mesko (which led the project), CRW Telesystem Mesko and the Military University of Technology. It is capable of destroying aircraft, helicopters, unmanned systems and cruise missiles at ranges between 400 metres to 6,5 kilometres and altitudes ranging from 10 metres to 4 kilometres. The system can operate in all atmospheric conditions, during the day and at night, in contested environments and in the presence of countermeasures. All of the baseline parameters of the system have been confirmed through combat use in Ukraine.

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