Polish JASSM Deal has been Confirmed by the State Department
US State Department confirmed the Polish purchase of 40 Lockheed Martin AGM-158A JASSM long range cruise missiles. Poland will also acquire F-16 software updates, training bundle and other supporting measures needed to use the new weapon system to the fullest extent. Value of the whole bundle may reach USD half billion.
Decision of the State Department was made within the shortest time period possible in line with the legal regulations. On 2nd October the required 15 day Foreign Military Sales transaction review period has expired. The purchase has been reviewed by the US Congress. Request for acceptance of the deal has been issued by DSCA on 17th September.
Not only does the armament bundle, maximum value of which was estimated to be 500 million dollars, include 40 AGM-158A missiles, but it also contains the software needed for using the missiles for the Polish F-16, along with instrumentation, spare parts, training bundle and logistic support. These are some elements that significantly increase the value of the deal, but they are a part of the infrastructure required to use the JASSM weapon system. That infrastructure needs to be created from scratch in Poland.
Polish F-16 C/D fighters, in order to facilitate use of the new armament, will be modernized up to the F-16 Block 52 M6.5 standard. In practical terms this means that the capabilities of the Link 16 tactical data exchange system will be enhanced. According to some unofficial sources, the modernization programme may also include new mission computers, updated software and jam-proofed GPS system.
The value of the contract disclosed to the public by the Department of Defense is controversial – USD 500 million for 40 missiles along with the F-16 upgrade bundle. Back in 2011 the DSCA agency had published the Finnish request regarding the purchase of 70 JASSM missiles. Then the estimated value of the contract was defined as USD 255 million. The available information also make it possible to reason that the transaction did not include modernization of the Finnish F/A-18 Hornet jet fighters. Taking into account the fact that the Polish contract will probably include a modernization bundle for the F-16 jets (see above), estimating the final price should not be done until the contract is finalized and detailed information is released to the public.
JASSM missiles and remaining elements of the bundle, which increase the defensive capabilities and interoperability of the Polish Armed Forces. They will for sure contribute to enhancing the effectiveness of the NATO joint operations. Purchasing this type of armament has been a subject of talks between the Polish Minister of Defence, Tomasz Siemoniak, and US Secretary of Defence, Chuck Hagel, in April this year. At beginning of September Defence24 achieved access to unofficial information stating that the 2015 modernization of the Polish F-16 is primarily aimed at integrating them with the AGM-158 JASSM weapon system. These missiles are capable of precisely striking ground targets at distances of up to 370 km.
In order to put the capabilities of the modernized F-16 fighters that will be capable to be equipped with AGM-158 JASSM into full use, Poland shall begin efforts to acquire a larger quantity of this type of armament, also in the JASSM-ER variant, with a range above 900 km. Not only will such weapon expand the combat capabilities of the Polish system of deterrence, but it will also make it possible to use the public money which is to be involved in the F-16 modernization programme in a more reasonable way.