Armed Forces

Polish Ministry of Defence will acquire UCAVs by 2022

During the meeting of the Parliamentary Commission of National Defence, the “Armed Forces Development Programme for the Period of 2013 – 2022” has been presented. The content suggests that until 2022 Poland will acquire UCAVs (this includes creation of a separate drone-dedicated airbase) and transport planes.

During the presentation of the programme issues related to the “main lines of action within transformation of the Armed Forces, direction of development of capabilities and functional systems, issues regarding the personnel structure, infrastructure and garrisons, funding conditions, tasks already executed or being executed, requests and tasks to be executed within the scope of Armed Forces 2017-2016 planning and programming” have been discussed.

Unfortunately, the analysis of the programme presented needs to be postponed. The reason is simple: the Commission meeting was carried out in absentia of the Minister of Defence, MoD Secretary of State and three MoD Undersecretaries of State. Jan Dziedzic, representing the Ministry (deputy chief of the General Staff), was unable to provide answers on behalf of the Minister. MEP Dorn suggested to send questions asked by the MEP to the parliament in writing, and so it happened. Tomasz Siemoniak, Polish Minister of Defence, informed that the Deputy Minister of Defence who was to attend the meeting is in a hospital and that he is going to be released in a couple of days.

Priorities and Tasks of the Armed Forces, according to the Programme

General Dziedzic confirmed the scope of the priorities of the “Programme” (in accordance with the plan of transformation of the Armed Forces). The main points include the following issues:

  • means and forces of deterrence, particularly: multi-role aviation, artillery and missiles for the Army, cruise missiles for the Navy and Special Forces;
  • development of information management systems of the air defence, including the anti-missile defence system;
  • achieving high degree of mobility of the Army

The structural changes planned by the MoD also include:

  • transformation of the General Staff into an institution of planning, consulting and strategic supervision;
  • integration of the commands into two commands responsible for ongoing supervision and operational command.

The Ministry of Defence also planned a reorganisation of the mobilisation system along with preparation of the reserves. Additionally the defence potential of the national industry will be used in a larger extent. The training system needs to be rationalized. Additionally the post-Soviet equipment of the Armed Forces will be replaced.

Procurement plans until 2022

The procurement priorities were the most interesting bit of the meeting, and, which is worth noting, these issues are more and more often mentioned during the meetings of the parliamentary commissions. It has been confirmed that the scope of modernization will include “acquisition of short- and long-range anti-aircraft missiles, purchase of multi-role helicopters, implementation of self-propelled artillery and howitzers, along with long range unguided rocket launchers, implementation of continuous track combat vehicles and acquisition of new submarines and coastal defence systems”.

Purchase of 5th generation multi-role jets has not been mentioned, however, due to the cost of the potential contract, this issue shall be treated with the highest priority (it was in February 2014 when a representative of the MoD gave a statement about plans to purchase the first two examples of the 5th generation jets in 2021).

Anyway, General Dziedzic mentioned other programmes relevant for the Polish defence capabilities. He stated that “within the scope of development of the striking capabilities a UCAV equipped unit needs to be formed”. What is more, it turned out that the “designed infrastructure changes will also  be related to creation of a UAV-dedicated base”.

Earlier it was stated that the Polish Army will try to acquire armed MALE class UAVs and tactical UAVs able to carry armament.  Another important issue mentioned in the plans is the fact that, within the scope of so called “capability of supporting the armed operations”, “transport aircraft” are to be purchased. Unfortunately no further details regarding the aircraft type were provided.

Which issues need to be clarified?

Dziedzic’s speech included some unclear statements, which will probably be clarified in writing by the Minister of Defence, who is to answer the questions coming from the MEPs. Unfortunately there were also some issues that need a serious, in-depth, debate.

General Dziedzic indicated that one of the key points of the programme is to “carry out changes in the command and control system”. However, these changes were to be completed on 31st December 2013, along with the reform of the aforementioned system. The General has stated that when describing the so called “command capability”, which is to be achieved through rearrangement of the command structures realized through the “reform of the command and control system”. The additional plans will probably be released to the public quite soon.

Another unclear point is the fact that achieving so called “capabilities of the reconnaissance system” will be connected with “rearrangement of the reconnaissance system within the scope of providing a  single-person command structure, including consolidation of the reconnaissance system”. After the reform of the command and control system has been carried out and National Security Bureau published new statutory suggestions, Poland was to no longer have a single-person command system in the Armed Forces. Hence it is unclear where the reconnaissance system will be placed in the chain of command.

Ministry of Defence also needs to clarify the issue of reserve resources of the Armed Forces. According to MoD, the “initiatives aiming at development of this system will include perfecting the training procedures of the National Reserve Forces, including development and implementation of a new motivational system, which would make it possible to maintain reserves consisting of 20 000”. Is it really a significant reorganisation within the scope of mobilisation? Instead of indicating the ways, which can be used to prepare the soldiers for potential mobilisation (since the compulsory military service is no longer present in Poland, the reserves will soon be gone – there will be a lack of soldiers who could be potentially mobilised), it has been only confirmed that the distribution of 100 000 soldiers plus 20 000 members of the National Reserve Forces is to be maintained.

In the meantime, the Ukraine crisis has shown that 20 000 people in the reserve forces would not be enough to secure the needs of the Armed Forces within the scope of human resources in case of a conflict, in order to cover potential losses in the frontline units later on. If that is not enough, the reserves are not even complete, which was noted by MEPs who asked the Minister of Defence about the date when the National Reserve Forces will consist of 20 000 soldiers – now the number is significantly lower.

Deterrence capabilities including the cruise missiles for the Navy were also a point, which needs further clarification. The Minister of Defence will have to answer questions coming from Ludwik Dorn and Michał Jach MEPs. They asked when the decision will be made, what the range of the Navy’s cruise missiles is going to be, and what is considered to be a means of deterrence by the Ministry of Defence.