Can Polish military industry model itself on Scandinavian?

  • Władimir Putin i Igor Sieczin- fot.
    Władimir Putin i Igor Sieczin- fot.

In previous article we analyzed methods through which Israel supports and develops its own military industry. Now we will look at how Scandinavian countries do it. We will analyze actions of Norway, Sweden and Finland, and if Poland can learn from them.

When we think about Scandinavian countries we often think about unreachable for us in nearest future level of wealth, but all those countries combined spend on their militaries not even twice as much as Poland does. In 2015 Poland spent 9.4 billion dollars for its military. Combined military budgets of Sweden, Norway and Finland did not exceed 17 bilions dollars. So the difference in wealth should not discourage Poland in search of examples and benchmarks, especially as it was pointed out previously, Poland plans to radically increase its military budget.

Scandinavians interpret direction from which eventual danger can come similarly to us. Proof of that can be seen in newest military cooperation agreement signed by US and Sweden, as well as currently negotiated similar agreement between US and Finland. Those countries are far from joining NATO but public opinion polls show that it is a possibility. Thanks to smart foreign policy and closer military cooperation, soon we might be able not only to observe from the distance what Scandinavians do, but actively work with them. We are talking about „offset” and transfer of advanced technologies. Close defense cooperation with Scandinavians and some previous good experiences with positive effects („Rosomak”) will only help.

Out of analyzed countries, Norway is the only country that is part of NATO. It also spends the most for its military out of them. In 2015 Norway spent 7 billion dollars. Even thou it cannot show similar results when it comes to weapon production and export as Sweden, Norway reached high level of specialization and technological advancement of its military industry. The most important company is two hundred year old “Kongsberg Gruppen”, stock-offering company with majority of its shares controlled by state. It is active in many areas but the area that is most interesting to us is covered by „Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace” branch, which manufactures missile systems, battle management systems, communication systems, space/satellite technology, as well as many systems meant for navy, especially submarine technology. It cooperates with German Rheinmetall (Rheinmetall owns Norwegian company “Simrad Optronic”, which specializes in optics), as well as with American industry, of which the best example can be fact that it produces parts for F-35. “Kongsberg” also owns minority shareholding (49.9%) in Finnish “Patria”.

“Kongsberg” is the best example of how consistently Norwegian government works closely with Finland and Sweden when it comes to defense. Transfer of technology and “offset” agreements happen very often. Norwegian state, through Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries owns 50% of shares in “Nammo” company (the other 50% is owned by Patria Oyj), which specializes in production of ammunition, missile and plane engines. A significant part of “Nammo” production is placed in Finland, Sweden and United States, production lines are also placed in Germany, Switzerland and Spain. 1/3 of the company activity is placed in Norway, including the employment, and the revenue generation.

In comparison with Norway, Sweden uses much less often state intervention in the military industry area. Most likely thanks to that it has better achievements when it comes to export and commercial success. Sweden belongs to top fifteen weapon exporters and taking into consideration its population size, it is very successful. It can be compared only to Israel and Switzerland. Sweden each year exports weapons to 35-40 countries, mainly to Western Europe, as well as to United States, Asia (mostly to India) and to lesser extent to Africa.

Swedish defense industry stands out because it is very independent from other countries, which is a heritage of long politics of neutrality. 90% of value of contracts for Swedish army are taken care of by Swedish industry. The example of big abilities of this industry is fact that such a small country, that is not engaged militarily anywhere, has its own modern multipurpose jet fighter “Gripen”.

The largest Swedish weapon manufacturer is giant “Saab Group”, producer of already mentioned “Gripen”. Saab is controlled by “Investor AB”, concern belonging to famous Wallenberg family, with significant shares belonging as well to British “BAE Systems”. This company has long list of well-known products and trademarks like “Carl Gustav” or “Bofors”. It also cooperates in field of new technologies with Great Britain, Germany and United States. It produces advanced missile, avionics, radar, communication, drone and submarine technology.

In analyzed group of countries Finland spends least for its military. In 2015 it was just 3.7 billion dollars. Finish military industry compared to Norwegian or Swedish is quite small and except of couple of small arms manufacturers, significant are “Patria”, which belongs in 50.1% to government (rest as we mentioned before belongs to Norwegian “Kongsberg”)  and “Nammo” of which 50% belongs to the Norwegian state as well. Finland cooperates closely with Swedish military industry when it comes to “offset” and transfer of advanced technologies. Recently Finland and Sweden published a report that emphasizes need for deepen military cooperation between those two countries, especially when it comes to military industry.

Current changes in international security system make Scandinavian countries a natural partner for Poland. Recent cooperation of Sweden and Finland with US and NATO, caused by aggressive steps taken by certain country in the east, creates perfect conditions for this. Perfect solution for Poland would be creation of advanced technology transfer and “offset” group with Scandinavian countries. Poland should join cooperation especially when it comes to missile shore defense systems technology and technologies tied to planned acquisition of submarines for Polish navy. Even thou we have not much to offer when it comes to advanced technologies, our key location and ability of building common security system in Baltic sea area should not be dismissed easily. We should remember about positive and fruitful experiences from cooperation with Finish, but in big part Norwegian, “Patria”.

So to sum up: Poland can and should take example from Scandinavian countries in many mentioned aspects. From more state run Norwegian and Finish industry and from more private run Swedish industry. When it comes transfer of advanced technologies and “offset” agreements, those countries are perfect example for us. They work with each other (often sharing same companies and placing production lines in each other countries), as well as with bigger and smaller partners. Poland should find itself in much tighter inner-circle of this cooperation.

Jarosław Kruk

Aleksander Czyżewski