Parliamentary discussion covering the delays in the Army Modernisation Programme. “Heavy suspicion that the programme has been tailored to fit one supplier”

8 listopada 2014, 11:33

During the meeting of the Parliamentary Commission dealing with the issues of National Defence, the members of parliament expressed their worries related to the main modernisation programmes in the Polish Armed Forces, including acquisition of medium range air defence systems codenamed Wisła, multi-purpose helicopters and submarines. MoD Secretary of State Czesław Mroczek answered the questions of the MPs – he admitted that several projects suffer from delays and the requirements are being modified as a result of the technical dialogue.

 

Extraordinary meeting has been arranged by request of a group of members of Parliament. Michał Jach (PiS), on behalf of the group, has clarified the reasons, which led to a meeting of the Commission. He also stated, in connection with the programme of technical modernisation of the Armed Forces, that no project is conducted in accordance with the schedule, and lack of transparency in the proceedings is an important issue to be discussed. The discussion focused on the Wisłą medium range air defence system, acquisition of multi-role helicopters and submarines.

The armed forces modernisation programme has been active since two years now. Ambitious programme, which aimed at making our armed forces modern (…) Not a single particular project of that programme is conducted in accordance with schedule which has been created on 12th December 2012. What we are worried about the most, is the lack of transparency in the individual proceedings.

Michał Jach MP presents justification of organising an extraordinary meeting of the commission

Wisła Programme

MP Jach has raised some doubts regarding the decision of the Ministry of Defence from 30th June,  regarding exclusion of three participants from the technical dialogue. Result of that decision: Rayethon and Eurosam companies have become the sole, remaining, bidders - Eurosam was invited by the MoD. Eurosam Consortium was earlier involved in cooperation with the Polish Defence Holding. MP Jach stated that decision of limiting the number of potential bidders makes the room for negotiation smaller.

In opinion of MP Jach, the arguments of the Ministry of Defence also contain fallacies. MoD states that the subjects which manufacture operational systems, which are being used by the NATO member states may go into the further stages of the procedure. Jach stated that currently used SAMP/T and Patriot systems do not possess all of the capabilities required by the Wisła programme, particularly within the scope of networking and open architecture. He also pointed out that financing the modernisation of the Patriot system has been delayed by 2 years in the USA, while the Israeli David’s Sling system is under constant, intensive development with help coming from the USA.

Michał Jach also reminded the participants that the Bundestag’s defence commission has prepared a desideratum, which calls for the quickest possible implementation of the air defence programme, while, in accordance with the guidelines set during the NATO summit in Wales, Germany attained a status of a “framework” NATO state within the scope of the anti-missile defence programme. MP Jach suggested that the MoD should get acquainted with the “report”  before taking any steps in connection with the decision regarding the Wisła initiative. During the discussion Jach also asked the participants to present information, whether the new medium range Wisła air defence system is to be capable of acting within a network-centered environment, in accordance with rules of open architecture. The second question regarded the capabilities of the system – it regarded the potential of omnidirectional or sectoral monitoring of the airspace – particularly the issue, referring to selecting one of these two options.

MoD Secretary of State, Czesław Mroczek, did not agree with the accusations over the lack of transparency. He stated that the proceedings are transparent, at the same time saying that he will not be able to disclose the detailed information regarding the tactical and technical requirements due to the fact that the meeting of the commission is public. Minister Mroczek admitted that the delay of the Wisła programme is related to the development of the potential offset assumptions. He also stated that it is “incredibly important” to involve the Polish industry in the finalisation of the project.

Independent MP Ludwik Dorn has also noted the decision regarding limiting the Wisła programme down to the offers of Raytheon and Eurosam companies. He did not agree with the arguments according to which no risk can be taken in a form of purchasing equipment which is still in its R&D phase, because the air defence systems are currently on the brink of two generations. He additionally stated that in order to meet the criteria of the technical dialogue, an in-depth modernisation of the offered systems would be needed – the American Patriot system would have to be upgraded to Next Gen standard, while SAMP/T system would have to be equipped with Aster 30 NT missiles. He suspected that the “operational capability” criterion, as well as the criterion of remaining active in NATO forces, have been prepared to tailor the tender to a concrete contractor, because there is no other field in which these systems are advantageous. – There is a heavy suspicion, that the programme has been tailored to fit one supplier – MP Dorn said.

MP Dorn has stated that the requirement of operability and being used by the NATO countries is completely contradictory to the criteria which had been developed before the technical dialogue started. He also stated that in the current legal conditions it will not be possible to conduct proceedings within the Wisła programme on the basis of the 118/MON decision, assuming that the negotiations are executed in a close mode, involving two, selected, bidders. When it comes to potential acquisition of the David’s Sling system, Ludwik Dorn pointed out, that after USA refused to sell PAC-3 MSE missiles with this system, virtually no possibility of acquiring this Israeli system exists.

- We are buying a system [which is to be used] for the next 20-30 years, but we must remember that all means of attack, including aircraft, cruise missiles and ballistic missiles, will be constantly developing (…) Due to that reason, if we have no option of taking part in development and modernisation of the system, we will be forced to pay for such process. - MP Dorn stated.

MP Dorn has also pointed out that not only is there a great need of involving the Polish industry in the process of maintenance of the new system, but also within the activities of modernising and developing that system due to the fact that aerial warfare is under constant development. He stressed the fact that in case when the Polish industrial potential is not involved in the development works, then acquisition of modification bundles for the air defence systems will have to involve foreign companies.

He also stated that he is worried about the changes in the documents, which define the process of the technical modernisation - “Armed Forces Technical Modernisation Plan within the period between 2013 and 2022”. In July this year Ministry of Defence thought of purchasing 6 batteries until 2022, while in accordance with the September version of the plan, the MoD had planned to purchase 8 Wisła batteries starting from 2018. Ludwik Dorn also expressed doubts regarding options of proper modernisation of the Wisła systems within 3 years from signing the agreement, until the first systems are procured in 2018.

In his response to the doubts expressed by MPs Dorn and Jach, Minister Mroczek stated that the information regarding the tactical-technical requirements cannot be presented in public. He also admitted that the proceedings are delayed, which stems from tailoring the information obtained by MoD during the procedures (e.g. during the market analysis). When it comes to the Wisła programme, Minister Mroczek stated that MoD will not risk taking part in R&D works and it will use one of the existing solutions, which still has some modernisation potential. MoD also assumes that both indicated systems “will undergo further development”,  MoD Secretary of State admitted that after the technical dialogue has been completed, both the requirements,  as well as number of batteries to be procured have been changed within certain period of time.

We have changed certain requirements and quantity of the batteries to be acquired in the period which is to expire until the procurement, due to the knowledge we have obtained during the technical dialogue.

MoD Secretary of State, Czesław Mroczek

MoD Secretary of State – Czesław Mrooczek also stated that the talks which are carried out with both bidders will make it possible to further refine the parameters of the systems and period within which they are to be supplied. Change in the number of batteries which are to be procured within a certain period of time, according to the documents defining the modernisation procedures, has been implemented due to acquisition of relevant information during the technical dialogue.

Multi-Role Helicopters

When it comes to purchase of the multi-purpose helicopters, MP Jach asked what the reasons for the  delay were. As he indicated, initially the agreement was to be signed in mid-2014, however, it turns out that it will take place in mid-2015. He also referred to the letter sent to the president and to the Minister of Defence by the president of Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation, who claimed that the tender is directed at a single bidder. MP Jach also asked for presentation of specific complaints of the Sikorsky company. He agreed with the statement of Minister of Defence, according to whom it’s the Polish Army, not the suppliers, who is to decide on the type of the equipment acquired for the Armed Forces.

Minister Mroczek stated that the Polish requirements result from the tactical and operational conditions related to the role of the Armed Forces. They are formulated in a way, in which it would be possible to replace Mi-8, Mi-14 and Mi-17 helicopters. He also stressed the fact that during the open meeting no additional detailed information related to the Sikorsy’s claims can be presented. Secretary of State in the Ministry openly admitted that in the helicopter programme there is a delay in the final offer deadline, caused by a large quantity of comments and questions regarding the tactical-technical conditions.

Thesis according to which, these conditions [regarding the proceedings related to the multi-purpose choppers] are formed in order to be tailored to one of the bidders is a media publicity stunt. We are not afraid of being involved in a discussion on the topic of showing that each of the bidders is able to offer a helicopter, which meets the requirements.

Czesław Mroczek on proceedings related to the multi-purpose helicopters.

As it was stated by Minister Mroczek, MoD confirmed the operational requirements and tactical and technical specification required by the Armed Forces. He also stated that all of the bidders have the required type of helicopter within their product range. Ministry of Defence nevertheless took some comments of the participants of the technical dialogue into account. According to the Minister Mroczek’s statement, selection of the supplier is to be finalized at the end of February next year.

Ludwik Dorn has raised some doubts as to whether looking for a common platform able to fulfil all the tasks, including maritime SAR operations, is a justified way of solving the problem. Minister Mroczek indicated the fact that the bidders wanted to place partial offers, however it is the Ministry’s of Defence intention to make division of the subject of the order impossible.

Submarines of a new type

Poseł Jach recalled the fact that in December 2012 the Armament Council took a stance, in accordance with which the new submarines shall be armed with cruise missiles. This requirement has not been taken into account in the technical dialogue procedure which had been started last year. Michał Jach also expressed some doubts regarding the changes that would permit U212A submarines to be included in the tender. He asked the Minister of Defence to present the schedule related to acquisition of submarines and cruise missiles.

Czesław Mroczek stressed that next year final stages of the proceedings related to acquisition of the coastal defence vessels, submarines and patrol mine-hunters will be reached. Minister of Defence has approved a decision to acquire the submarines. MoD Secretary of State did not disclose the information regarding the direct reason for the change which makes it possible for 212A submarines to be included in the tender. However, he stated that accepting as many bidders as possible is beneficial, due to the fact that this would increase the level of competition. After MP Jach asked the question regarding the change of requirements, Mr Mroczek pointed out the fact that discussion over the detailed assumption cannot be carried out in public.

These analyses convinced us fully that (…) cruise missiles shall be one of the elements of armament of the submarines – nevertheless, way we are going to acquire these missiles is still to be discussed.

MoD Secretary of State, Czesław Mroczek

Minister Mroczek stated that the way the cruise missiles for the submarines will be acquired is still to be discussed. Ludwik Dorn has expressed his satisfaction with the declaration that cruise missiles will be acquired for the submarines, however he claimed that relevant decision shall be taken after the analyses “at the beginning of the proceedings”. He recalled the fact that earlier the Navy wanted to acquire the U214 submarines in Greece. The procedure included forming a special group, without any knowledge of the former Minister of Defence, which was to carry out the procedure. MP Dorn also said that he expects to hear the information regarding the range of the acquired cruise missiles.

The discussion also covered the issue of participation of the Polish defence industry in the process of modernisation of the Armed Forces, as well as the financial framework for the programme. Czesław Mroczek expressed his readiness to present more detailed information in a form which would be confidential. MP Jach issued a request for conducting the meeting of the Commision in  a confidential mode.

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