Defence Policy

More Main Battle Tanks for the Polish Armed Forces. Deputy Minister Bejda Outlines Modernization Rearrangement

Paweł Bejda, Secretary of State at the Polish Ministry of Defence
Paweł Bejda, Secretary of State at the Polish Ministry of Defence
Photo. Mirosław Mróz/

Reinitiation of talks on Performance Contract No. 2 is planned immediately - that contract assumes that another 180 main battle tanks with support vehicles would be procured. That agreement is expected to be concluded by the end of this year, after the financing options within the Armed Forces Support Fund are confirmed, Paweł Bejda, Secretary of State at the Polish Ministry of Defence stresses, in an interview.

Jędrzej Graf: The delegation led by you just returned from South Korea. Talks on implementation of already signed technical modernization agreements were underway, and also on the next stage of the performance contracts. What are the key takeaways here?

Paweł Bejda, Secretary of State at the Polish Ministry of Defence: Within the framework of the April visit to the Republic of Korea, I was joined, among other people, by Marcin Kulasek (Secretary of State at the Ministry of State Assets), General of the Branch Dariusz Łukowski (Deputy Chief of National Security Bureau), Krzysztof Trofiniak (President at the PGZ Group), and Directors and Heads from the Armament Policy Department, Armament Agency, and the Innovation Department. A party from Poland this big, and its level, clearly show that we are treating the defence cooperation with Korea incredibly seriously, and comprehensively, and we expect it to last for decades. We realize that the Republic of Korea has a very strong defence industry, and it is also a global leader in military technology R&D. Nonetheless, to make good use of that opportunity, the Polish industry, and the Polish government, need to play that game as a single team. We succeeded in doing that throughout this visit. I am particularly grateful for the support provided by the National Security Bureau which clearly shows that we have eyes on a single goal, with the Korean partner - namely ensuring national security for our state. I will not allow for a situation to develop, that we have witnessed during the previous term of office, when the irresponsible stance adopted by the industry created a situation in which the negotiation was interrupted. This scenario is not going to repeat itself. Here, we have been witnessing a major qualitative change, as President Krzysztof Trofiniak understands the multitude of opportunities that may be created through industrial cooperation with South Korea. This is why I am happy about this visit. I have noticed high levels of involvement of all the parties, in the best attainable development of cooperation in the defence industry domain between our two states.

Hence, the talks involve multiple entities, on both sides. And the conclusions?

Our coherent approach towards security remains immeasurably relevant, which has been stressed numerous times, by the people participating in the meetings. During the visit, the delegates participated in numerous meetings with officials, including the Korean Minister of Defence - Shin Won-Sik, his Deputy - Sung Il, DAPA Minister (Defence Acquisition Program Administration) - Seokm Jonggun, DAPA Vice Minister Hyuanki Cho, and Presidents and Management Boards of the Key Korean defence sector businesses: Hyundai Rotem Company, Hanwha Aerospace, KIA, Korea Aerospace Industries, and Poongsan.

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The key matter covered in the talks with the Korean Ministers is the strong will to continue defence-related collaboration with Poland, and, above all, the willingness to share proprietary know-how and advanced technologies with Poland as well. Within that scope, the Koreans are facing a relevant challenge, namely the improvement of the export financing system. Presidents of the Korean industrial entities that I have mentioned have been showing a high degree of openness towards cooperation, also expressing readiness to transfer the technologies to Poland. I had a chance to see manufacturing lines and technology centres, where the military equipment for the Armed Forces of Korea, and the export customers, Poland included, is being made.


What were the postulates presented by you, and the Polish delegates?

During the talks, I always emphasized the necessity to keep the levels of involvement of the Polish defence industry at the maximum level, when it comes to maintenance and servicing of the procured armament, and in the area of establishing manufacturing potential, both for the K2PL main battle tanks, K9PL howitzers, Chunmoo systems, as well as for the 155 and 120 mm munitions, and rockets (including the 239 mm CGR-080 rockets for Chunmoo). I can confirm that these matters have been understood by my interlocutors. Let me also say that I assured the Koreans that the Polish government will go to great lengths to launch the necessary investments at the Polish defence industry facilities so that they can absorb the transfer of technologies. Here, I am referring to the investment required to launch the manufacturing of the K2PL main battle tanks. We are overcoming the deadlock that our predecessors were stuck in - they used to talk a lot, with no actions that followed.

I also asked, taking the comprehensive cooperation between Korea and Poland into account, for effective action to be taken by Seoul, within the scope of simplifying the technology transfer procedures for Poland. I also presented several domestically manufactured products to the Korean side, such as radars, Rak mortar system, ZSSW-30 turrets, or Piorun MANPADS - all showcased as export offerings. We hope that, within that scope, the Republic of Korea will seriously consider both the acquisition of those systems, as well as integration of these with locally manufactured military equipment.

The Armament Agency concluded a second performance contract with Hanwha Aerospace, on delivery of the K239 Chunmoo MLRS platform. What are the key components of that contract? And what the next steps would be, when it comes to the rocket artillery, and, in particular, manufacturing of munitions for those assets - namely the Homar-K and Homar-A systems?

Within the framework of the agreement signed, 72 modules of MLRS systems for Homar-K would be procured, along with a training and logistics package, between 2026 and 2029. The Agreement also covers the delivery of several thousand precision strike missiles, with ranges of 80 and 290 kilometres, along with the manufacturer’s technical support.

The agreement signed also includes the transfer of technologies within the scope of launcher design and manufacturing of the spares for the launchers. What’s worth emphasizing, the modules procured now will be able to utilize Polish 122 mm rocket munitions. The current phase of implementation of the Homar-K programme is also tied to further agreements signed with the entities of the Polish defence industry, including procurement of Jelcz base platforms, communication systems, and adaptation of the weapons modules for the 122 mm unguided rockets.

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The next step in the Homar-K programme, planned to be executed in 2025, is the conclusion of the performance agreement no. 3, covering the establishment of 239 mm rocket manufacturing capability in Poland.

I do realize that manufacturing the rockets and munitions is a key issue, and we have a very ambitious schedule in place, within that scope. I can assure you that the manufacturing of the 239 mm rockets for the Homar-K system will be launched at the soonest date possible. Long-range rocket artillery is currently placed under a high priority, and thus we are accelerating the undertakings tied to manufacturing and acquisition of these systems, despite the very complicated process of technology transfer.


The leadership at the Polish Ministry of Defence has been engaged in an audit process concerning the Polish Ministry of Defence, also within the scope of the technical modernization. A few weeks back you said, at the Parliament, that the undervaluation of the tasks tied to the Armed Forces« Development Programme is as high as PLN 500 bn., taking into account the modernization matters, but also material procurement, and construction investments. What is the reason for that underestimation? How, the Ministry of Defence, is willing to continue the implementation of tasks tied to the development of the Armed Forces, in conditions of undervaluation?

The PLN 500 billion is a spectacular amount, but one should remember that this amount covers the catalogue of tasks contained in the current edition of the Armed Forces Development Programme, valid for the period between 2021 and 2035. The multi-aspect analysis of needs, within the scope of possible implementation, full implementation, of all tasks covered by the programme points to the need to increase the financial expenditure, within the Central Material Plans. The implementation of all plans aimed at developing the potential of the Polish Armed Forces, also including the sustainment of the assumed dynamic tempo for procurement of modern weapons generates costs that, currently, exceed the planned financial limits.

The aforesaid underestimation certainly has an impact on the level of development ambitions and equipment requirements of the Polish Armed Forces. Here I am referring, among other issues, to the necessity of securing extra funds for procuring equipment for the newly formed 1st „Legions” Infantry Division, 8th „Home Army” Infantry Division, or the 18th Mechanized Division.

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To efficiently accomplish the planned tasks, one needs to adopt the consequent implementation of financial discipline. Implementation of relevant procedures preventing the conclusion of agreements without properly securing the tied financing was necessary here, along with the implementation of agreements specifically stemming from the real needs of the military. Contrary to our predecessors, we acknowledge what the General Staff of the Polish Armed Forces has to say, and we are diligently analyzing the state’s financial ability, as well as the benefits stemming from the acquisition of the given equipment type. I want to stress, however, that there is no hampering of the Armed Forces Modernization, we are gradually accelerating this process, but in a manner that remains tightly coordinated with all military institutions involved.

What about the cost the equipment entails once commissioned, the lifecycle cost - usually higher than the procurement cost alone?

Noteworthy, we are fully aware of the whole lifecycle cost for the military equipment, as well as of the necessity to secure the required infrastructure- and logistics-related facilities, which will also generate costs in the future. It seems reasonable to make decisions on extra sources or mechanisms that could be used to finance the modernization of the Armed Forces.

The previous leadership at the Polish Ministry of Defence decided on forming the 1st Infantry Division (1. Dywizja Piechoty Legionów), and you have recently met those soldiers, along with the 8th „Home Army” (Armii Krajowej) Infantry Division. The new units, formed from the ground up, need people and new equipment in all categories, ranging from main battle tanks, and fighting vehicles, to logistics-support assets. Are you going to continue forming those units? What impact does that process have on the needs, within the scope of urgent equipment deliveries?

The transformation of international policy happening in recent years, including, in particular, the Russian aggression against Ukraine, has redefined the security environment in our region. This creates new challenges, for both Poland and the Polish Armed Forces. A realistic boost of deterrence capabilities based on the owned defensive potential becomes a key element for Poland’s security, along with modern, well-equipped Armed Forces.

The forming of two new divisions is derived from the increase of the defensive potential. One should note that the process in which new tactical elements are born is a long-term one, requiring high levels of involvement from the Polish Armed Forces, and also calling for significant financing, making it possible to equip those units with baseline military equipment.

I would like to stress the fact, that one of the relevant priorities for the Central Material Plans is to have the planned financing guaranteeing the procurement of primary military equipment, with that procurement resulting in equipping of the newly formed tactical elements, allowing for achieving a proper level of combat readiness on time, in line with the purpose assigned to the said elements.

Currently, the leadership at the Polish Ministry of Defence is declaring that at least 50% of the equipment procurement processes would be done directly by the Polish Defence Industry. What programmes will be launched for that goal to be achieved? Do you see an opportunity to expand the procurement programmes involving the Polish industry, for instance in the context of „dronization”, mentioned by the Chief of the General Staff?

If one wants to do military procurement, one needs to realize how complex this process is. First, it is worth recalling the fact that purpose and the way and costs involved in fulfilling that purpose are the key elements of that process.

It should be emphasized that users are also involved in this process, i.e. expert institutions, namely the representatives of entities coming under the authority of the DG RSZ (General Command of the Armed Forces), and the General Staff of the Polish Armed Forces, as institutions responsible, among other things, for the programming, planning and implementation of the modernization of the Armed Forces, and further on, the Armed Forces Support Inspectorate, i.e. the institution responsible for the so-called LCC (Life Cycle Cost), i.e. the life cycle of military equipment, and of course the Armament Agency, whose task is to acquire equipment in line with the needs identified by the above-mentioned. In addition, let us not forget that within the structure of the Ministry of Defence, there are also the Department of Armament Policy and the Department of Innovation, actively participating in the process of modernizing the Polish army.

All of these institutions, and probably a few more that I have not mentioned, are involved in the entire cycle of acquisition as well as the ongoing operation of military equipment from the moment the requirement for acquisition is identified, through its operation, to its decommissioning. Only with this knowledge other participants can be included, and here I am thinking of the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of State Assets and, of course, the Ministry of Defence as the organ completely aggregating the above-mentioned institutions across the entire field of action.

As you pointed out, this process is made up of many internal as well as external factors, which will ultimately allow us to expand purchases in the Polish defence industry. This applies to any type of military equipment, in any domain - land, air, sea or the ‘droning’ cited by the Chief of the Polish Army’s General Staff. Always, the first assumptions made within the framework of procurement of military equipment are addressed to the Polish industry, regardless of the capabilities that it owns.

Would the 50% pool include orders finalized by consortia, such as the one tied to the K2PL main battle tank, or more broadly, contracts that are being pursued through international collaboration

One may note that businesses that have a capacity as such today are involved in manufacturing sourced from different places, USA and South Korea included. However, concerning the K2PL tank itself, I would like to point out that this is a process in which the Polish defence industry is very much involved at the moment. Talks and negotiations are underway and, of course, the Ministry of Defence is a vigilant observer of the situation in this regard.

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It is in the interest of the Armed Forces to seek the maximum level of domestic manufacturing of the products, and their components, for the sake of building national supply chains, as well as to diversify them and to make them as independent as possible from foreign suppliers. This makes it possible, in the long term, to ensure technological sovereignty and to stimulate the technological development of individual areas of the defence industry. In a situation in which it is not possible to secure the identified requirements of the Polish Armed Forces by national defence industry entities, e.g. as a result of a lack of national technology, it is reasonable to include other entities with the required competencies in their offer in the implementation of the task, which would make it possible to build the capabilities of the Polish Armed Forces and develop the competencies of the national industry through mutual industrial cooperation. Establishing technological sovereignty is an important aspect of developing the national defence industry’s potential. Nonetheless, what is the most important factor, and always needs to be, is the ability to fulfil the intended requirements, as designated by the Polish Armed Forces.

Thus, it should be emphasized that we will strive to ensure that the Polish defence industry contributes as much as possible to the technical modernization of the Armed Forces, and we do not intend to limit ourselves to the declared level in this regard, as long as this is feasible on the part of the domestic industry. It should be remembered that another important factor that one must take into account in the process of technical modernization of the Polish Armed Forces is the timing of the delivery of military equipment, which has a significant impact on the decisions taken in this regard. Nevertheless, as I pointed out earlier, within the framework of the acquisition of military equipment the first thoughts that emerge are always directed to Polish industry.

While we are discussing the subject of the K2PL tank, what conditions on the Polish side must be met for this programme to progress? And is it assumed, once the contract for the K2GF tanks is completed, that one large contract will be signed for the full pool of K2PL tanks or is a split order being considered?

All modernization programmes concluded and implemented at the Ministry of Defence undergo a comprehensive analysis and evaluation. Strengthening armoured units is one of the priorities, envisaged within the process of technical modernization. The acquisition of the Korean K2 tanks was the first step on the way to launching license manufacturing of the improved K2PL tanks tailored to the requirements of the Polish Armed Forces.

The final requirements and configuration of the K2PL tank are currently being determined after technical consultations between PGZ S.A. and WZM S.A., which were interrupted earlier in September last year. Reinitiation of talks on Performance Contract No. 2 is planned immediately - that contract assumes that another 180 main battle tanks with support vehicles would be procured. That agreement is expected to be concluded by the end of this year after the financing options within the Armed Forces Support Fund are confirmed. Within the framework of the K2PL deliveries, it is expected that manufacturing capacity would be placed in Poland, within the scope of manufacturing selected components of the said main battle tank (transfer of technologies), and also polonization of the tank’s subsystems.

The intent is to have the manufacturing process for selected elements, components, and systems of the K2PL located in Poland, and the final assembly would also be happening in Poland, along with the acquisition of maintenance and repair capability for the Polish Armed Forces. Furthermore, within the framework of establishing defence capabilities, the Polish defence industry obliged itself to develop K2PL-based support vehicles, and simulator and training systems - in collaboration with the Korean partner. At the same time, it must be remembered that, as new equipment is introduced into the inventory of the Armed Forces, the infrastructure, training, documentation, access to spare parts and post-warranty service must be prepared.

The PGZ Group declares that it needs several billion zlotys for recapitalisation, but so far no solutions have been worked out to implement it on such a scale. In what way the Polish Ministry of Defence supports the efforts made, aimed at the provision of extra investment for the industry?

The Polish defence industry has the potential to manufacture various types of military equipment for the Polish Armed Forces and export to other countries. In addition, it can service, repair and modernise both post-Soviet equipment and modern equipment incorporating NATO standards. This competence has been acquired through investment in research and development, funding programmes, international cooperation within NATO, the European Union and international initiatives, and the implementation of offset deals, carried out when contracts for the purchase of military equipment are concluded.

The Polish defence potential is formed by both public and private entities. By far the largest representative of the Polish arms industry is Polska Grupa Zbrojeniowa S.A., established in 2013 by the State Treasury. It is one of the largest defence companies in Europe and is also among the world’s top 100 defence companies. PGZ S.A. is formed by more than 50 companies specializing in, among other things, the manufacturing of firearms, radars, armoured personnel carriers, tube artillery, unmanned aerial systems, as well as short-range air defence systems, and small and large-calibre ammunition. In the private sector, the leading company is WB Group, known for producing FlyEye unmanned systems and Warmate cruise munitions, among other products. Lubawa company is another notable entity, operating in the area of military clothing and apparel.

War beyond our eastern border stimulates the faster development of the Polish defence industry. Poland is among the leading nations providing military aid to Ukraine. This, on the other hand, means that Polish weapons, munitions, vehicles, and systems are used on the real battlefield. As it turns out, they do very well there. This, in turn, means that the Polish Armaments Group and private businesses, including, for example, the WB Group, are receiving more orders from many countries looking to rearm and provide their citizens with a sense of security. At the same time, the combat use of the products in Ukraine makes it possible to gain both operational and technical lessons and experience stemming from the use of those products, which translates into continuous enhancement of the manufactured equipment.

But how does the Ministry of Defence support the increase of the manufacturing capacity, after all, until recently the Polish businesses have been supplying equipment on a smaller scale?

The growth in demand is also a major challenge. Polish defence companies need to fulfil further orders now, making use of the potential made available to them within the scope of enhancing the manufacturing capacity, and meeting the growing demand expressed by the Polish Armed Forces. This, in turn, forces everybody to engage in further technological and competencies-related development and also calls for numerous qualified specialists. One needs to remember that the Polish defence industry needs to be aware, that the competition on the market is huge.

Within the framework of implementing the technical modernization of the Polish Armed Forces, and also defence procurement, the Polish Ministry of Defence repeatedly analyses the most optimal manner in which the necessary capabilities can be obtained, including the capacity to achieve the maximum level of involvement through establishment of manufacturing and maintenance competencies within the Polish defence industry, and also via establishment of cooperation with the Polish companies - with the Polish companies also being included in the supply chains of the foreign entities.

Examples of the acquisition of state-of-the-art technologies and thus already existing or planned capabilities of the Polish arms industry include:

In the land domain:

  • Maintenance and repair capabilities for main battle tanks: Leopard, K2, and Abrams;
  • Air/missile defence systems procured within the framework of the Narew programme: radar technologies, and SHORAD/VSHORAD systems;
  • Artillery and rocket/missile systems;
  • Armoured vehicles.
  • In the air domain:
  • Maintenance and repair capabilities concerning the F-16 and C-130 aircraft;
  • Manufacturing capabilities and maintenance and repair capabilities concerning the Black Hawk and AW-family helicopters.
  • In the sea domain:
  • Miecznik-class frigates shipbuilding processes;
  • Kormoran II MCMV build;
  • Delfin programme warship building.

The development of that base requires further investment. How they could be co-financed if relevant entities have no sufficient funds of their own?

Implementation of modern technologies forces the defence industry to allocate significant funds to investments, needed to establish new or modernize the existing manufacturing capabilities. Industrial entities often cannot afford investment so broad, which creates a necessity to seek sources of financing, like advance payments, or establishing capitalization programmes. Thus, the Ministry of Defence is closely working on that aspect, hand in hand with the Ministry of State Assets, and the Ministry of Development and Technology, to ensure the growth of the defence industry businesses, directly supervised by the two Ministries I have mentioned.

Furthermore, implementation of the offset conditions or industrial return is also a frequent challenge in negotiated defence contracts, which sometimes entails extra cost and may not be necessary. Thus, at the negotiation stage, it is reasonable to coordinate the negotiated conditions with the Ministry of State Assets, and relevant industrial entities.

The information at hand, available at the Polish Ministry of Defence suggests that the financial requirements and financial needs reported by the companies, regarding the increase of the manufacturing capacity, are as high as several billion zlotys, until 2027. Some of the PGZ S.A. companies (including HSW, MESKO, and BUMAR- ŁABĘDY) have received support as such, within the framework of the Capital Investments Fund.

Let’s move on to specific areas of modernization. Air Defence is a priority for the Chief of the General Staff. IBCS system has recently been procured for the Wisła and Narew systems. What the next steps would be, when it comes to the expansion of the air defence system, and in what way the Polish industry would be involved in these steps? Do you see any potential for expanding the field of application for systems like Piorun? And what about the counter-UAS assets?

First, I would like to assure you that modernization of the air defences of the Polish Ministry of Defence is a priority for the current leadership at the Polish Ministry of Defence, and we are placing a huge emphasis on building multi-layered, integrated air/missile defence system, also by implementing programmes like Wisła, Narew, or Pilica+. For that purpose, we expect further performance contracts to be signed, also involving Polish entities. Within the framework of those contracts, the aforesaid capabilities would be developed.

One should note that further implementation of the second phase of the Wisła programme, following the agreements already signed with the Americans, currently entails contracts regarding several elements of this system, that would be supplied by the Polish industry. The key elements would include Polish radars, like Sajna, Bystra, P-18PL, and the PET/PCL passive radar - all to be integrated with IBCS.

Regarding the Piorun system, I would like to assure you that the Polish Ministry of Defence is interested in further development of that solution since it has shown a high degree of lethality during the ongoing War in Ukraine. We are following the lessons learned, received after the combat use of that system, along with modification proposals, suggested by the Polish industry. As far as we know, the Industry is currently working on enhancing the key performance figures associated with the Piorun system, namely its range and accuracy. Creating new capabilities for this type of missile may pave the way for even broader use of this armament in the Polish Armed Forces.

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The matter of neutralizing UAVs is currently viewed as one of the priorities, within the scope of reinforcing the air defence system of the Polish Armed Forces. To accomplish the adopted objective, we are currently working on establishing the „unmanned branch” of the Armed Forces, also planning to procure lethal counter-drone systems.

PM Donald Tusk has been declaring Poland would join the ESSI initiative tied to air defences. Poland has already joined the British initiative, in parallel and alongside the Wisła, Nare, and Pilica programmes that are already underway. In what way such projects could be complementary, and how they could support what Poland is doing already?

The multi-layered air/missile defence system is a key element of the military national security system. Considering the above, the Ministry of Defence is intensely developing the capabilities within that scope. Poland, as a NATO member state, places a lot of emphasis on the collective defence efforts, and also on the cooperation with the allies, within the scope of exchanging information and experiences. Approach as such promotes the growth of interoperability between the Polish Armed Forces and armies of other NATO member states. One of the tools thanks to which this approach is possible includes intergovernmental memoranda on cooperation within well-defined frameworks.

In the context of the deterioration of the security situation in Europe, including in particular the threat from Russian airstrike assets, the Ministry of Defence is examining any international initiatives that could be complementary to the air defence capabilities already being developed and thus contribute to strengthening the security of Poland and the North Atlantic Alliance.

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One of the identified fields of cooperation with the British side is the use of the same type of effectors in the respective systems, i.e. CAMM missiles, used by the Polish Armed Forces in the Little Narew systems, and expected to be employed in Narew, and Pilica+ solutions. The DIAMOND initiative that is currently underway, takes into account the possibility of joint procurement of such weapons, which can lead to savings stemming from the economies of scale. It should also be noted that becoming a part of such programmes creates opportunities in terms of acquiring military equipment and technological capabilities for manufacturing such equipment.

Rumours of Poland joining the UK initiative circulated in the infosphere some time ago. How do we perceive the ESSI (European Sky Shield Initiative) project submitted by Germany?

The European Sky Shield Initiative (ESSI) is currently undergoing a multi-faceted analysis of the needs of the Polish Armed Forces. Relevant decisions will be made on this matter once the analytical process has been completed, but it should nevertheless be noted that three of Poland’s neighbours have declared accession to the ESSI, and when combating aerial threats, political borders should not affect the response time of defence systems.

If Poland were to join the ESSI initiative, it would be of significant importance for both the Armed Forces and the Polish arms industry. The Polish Armed Forces may be allowed to develop capabilities in the highest tier of air defence, i.e. long-range, in an international formula. Working independently to procure this type of air and missile defence system, as part of the WISŁOKA programme, would undoubtedly entail enormous costs and high risks. We are currently pursuing numerous programmes in the realm of the lower tiers of IADS - Wisła, Narew, and Pilica+. Nonetheless, the Polish industry could gain a chance to offer products designed to meet the Polish Armed Forces« needs, such as radars, or communications systems, to other European nations, within the framework of the aforesaid initiative.

Is procurement of almost 500 Homar-A launchers, based on the HIMARS system, still envisaged, along with license-manufacturing of the missiles?

A total of 486 Homar-A launchers (27 rocket artillery squadrons) are still planned to be procured under two executive contracts amounting to 126 and 360 launchers respectively. As part of the agreements concluded in this programme, it is planned to establish the manufacturing of launchers and GMLRS missiles at PGZ S.A. companies. For now, an invitation to negotiate the terms and conditions of execution of Performance Agreement No. 1 is being prepared to be sent to the contractor. The conclusion of the agreement is planned to happen by the end of this year.

What about the 155 mm artillery munitions? Last year’s contract was signed with Dezamet, but this by no means meets the requirements. Will more contracts be signed in the future, also involving businesses outside PGZ? What role is ascribed to international cooperation, in the realm of manufacturing munitions - also with the Koreans?

The munitions are procured in line with the requirements of the operational forces, and the meeting of their demand is ongoing. Of course, we are planning to conclude further agreements, also outside the PGZ, as the most important thing is to acquire not only military equipment, but also ammunition for it, both in time and the quantities required and determined by external factors, which are undoubtedly the ongoing armed conflicts, not only beyond our eastern border, but also in the global context.

What is very important is undoubtedly the fact that the components are manufactured, and thus sourced, in different countries by all customers present in the munitions market. It would certainly be best and most advantageous to have the capacity to produce this type of munitions domestically, but it takes time to build, which, with today’s threats, undoubtedly has an impact and influence on how and where they are sourced. It also does not change the fact that we will strive to establish such capacity within the territory of the Republic of Poland, to the best and most beneficial effect for the Armed Forces and the country as a whole more broadly.

As I outlined earlier, as part of last week’s visit to Korea, with the participation of the Deputy Minister of State Assets, and the President of PGZ S.A., I was involved in talks on 155 mm ammunition with both the government side, and the management of Hanwha Aerospace and Poongsan. The results of these talks are promising and are scheduled to continue in the coming weeks and months in Poland. Also throughout visits by the Korean National Defence Minister, and the Minister and Deputy Minister of DAPA.

We spoke about tanks earlier, meanwhile, Poland has also transferred a significant number of IFVs to Ukraine. Contrary to main battle tanks, new IFVs, or higher numbers of brand-new Rosomak have not been ordered yet - even though the Borsuk programme exists. How the Polish Ministry of Defence is willing to restore and develop the capabilities of mechanized units, armed with the Borsuk IFV, or heavier platforms, and of the motorized units, employing APCs?

All contracts concluded and pursued at the Ministry of Defence at the present moment are undergoing an in-depth analysis. Activities related to the acquisition of the Borsuk IFV are being carried out in accordance with the deadlines set out in the Armed Forces Technical Modernization Plan. The initiation of the procedure and negotiation on procurement of the Borsuk IFV are both planned to happen after the prototype successfully passes the qualification test programme.

In April 2024, the technical portion of checks regarding the Borsuk IFV prototype was finalized, as a part of the Qualification Tests Programme. The test results obtained so far show that the prototype meets the requirements tied to the amphibious capacity, offroad mobility, and IED/mine protection. Relevant remarks and observations are forwarded to the Contractor for implementation. The tests carried out and the modifications made will have a major impact on the decision regarding the final configuration of the vehicle.

Given the scale of the Mechanized Forces« needs for this type of platform, meeting them should be prioritized and, consequently, the expectation from the national defence industry will be to deliver them efficiently and on time, which will require the commitment of maximum organizational effort and the use of its production capacity.

This year, it is planned to develop prototype lots of the Heavy Infantry Fighting Vehicles (CBWP) and New Wheeled APCs (NKTO), which will enable, in the longer run after the completion of qualification and verification tests, to conclude the performance contracts covering the procurement and delivery of those to the Polish Armed Forces.

Since the last year, the Polish Ministry of Defence has been getting ready to procure the Apache helicopters. The procurement process pertains to 96 aircraft expected to be acquired through an offset-based procedure. Should the contract be signed, it is going to have a value of several billion zlotys. Is the MoD still willing to procure the US-made helicopters, in that number? How are you going to solve the matter of training, and life-cycle support?

The Polish Ministry of Defence is still planning to procure 96 AH-64E Apache helicopters for the Polish Armed Forces. The agreement on the procurement of these aircraft will be signed immediately after the Council of Ministers signs and approves all of the offset agreements. The first offset agreement with Lockhead Martin Global, Inc. was signed on 25th September 2023. The other two are under negotiation and until this is completed we are not disclosing any details leaving them to the specialist teams. We seek the best possible conditions for the placement of capabilities, including technical capabilities, in the country.

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A logistics support package would be ordered along with the helicopters. It is going to be used throughout the initial phase of the Apache’s lifecycle. At the same time we are going to develop maintenance capacity, founding it upon airbases and the Polish defence industry, and offset agreements signed will play a major part in this. Until relevant capacity is attained, the maintenance will be done by the manufacturer, based on future maintenance agreements.

What is the training system going to look like?

The training for the aircrews, and the engineers is already underway, since mid-2023, based on a separate agreement. The appointed personnel is involved in airmanship and maintenance training programmes taking place in the US. Unfortunately, given the lack of a proper training infrastructure in Poland, we will be temporarily forced to train the personnel abroad. As time passes, we should also be able to establish capacity as such domestically and base them around the existing training facilities (Air Force Academy, Military University of Technology, Center for Aviation Engineering Training). But this has been planned further down the road.

The Apache helicopters are just one example of new-generation equipment that may be procured, and that is characterized by a high level of complexity, which translates into complex maintenance and support requirements. The same applies to the Abrams and K2 main battle tanks, Wisła and Narew systems, the F-35, and numerous other platforms. In a few years, the support costs and the related tasks would have a much broader profile. How the Polish Ministry of Defence is going to face this challenge? What role would be assigned to the Polish industry here?

The matter of sustainability and maintenance costs brought up in this question is an integral factor in the whole process of the Armed Forces« technical modernization, while the fact that it is a huge cost is the most important aspect of that. We need to incur this cost, to provide and maintain military equipment’s „ready-to-use” status, in line with its operational purpose. What is also relevant is the process of ensuring the capacity to recover the equipment’s readiness in the event of potential damage, and also the long-term materials supply - required over the lifecycle. All this is - I emphasise - a cost that is both huge and necessary.

It should be emphasised here that the need to secure funding for the acquisition of military equipment and its operation throughout its life cycle should apply to any type of military equipment that we acquire. Unfortunately, there is a strong underfunding of contracts, including in particular those related to the preparation of the required infrastructure, personnel costs, training, as well as the provision of spare parts and maintenance services and the retrofitting of support equipment and munitions and weapons.

With regard to the issue of the plans mentioned earlier, concerning the purchase of helicopters and HIMARS launchers, I would like to inform you that the final number of military equipment examples depends, to a large extent, on the outcome of the current negotiations, taking into account the financial possibilities. The priority for the negotiations is to ensure support, repair and maintenance capabilities, pertaining to the equipment to be acquired, and these capabilities shall be founded upon the largest possible contribution made by the Polish defence industry.

How is the industry to contribute to these two tasks?

The AH-64E procurement is carried out within a procedure envisaging the use of offset. The offset agreement with Lockheed Martin was concluded in 2023. The subject of the offset agreement is, among other things, the acquisition of support, repair and maintenance capabilities for key helicopter components used in combat and reconnaissance, including guidance and target designation systems. Within the scope of further areas, negotiations with the manufacturer of the helicopters are underway.

For the HIMARS system, the Polish Armed Forces are taking steps to secure maintenance and repairs using their own maintenance and repair capabilities. Furthermore, as a result of the signed framework agreement, it was assumed that most of the equipment should be delivered by the domestic defence industry. The adoption of such a solution will allow for a reduction in equipment maintenance costs and significantly expand the industrial capacity of the Polish defence industry.

However, at this stage, I would like to assure you that the planned financial resources allow for the implementation of the adopted assumptions for the modernization of the Polish Armed Forces enabling the acquisition of attack helicopters and Homar-A launchers (HIMARS).

Summing up, the increase of Poland’s defence potential is possible to achieve by more than just procurement of major quantities of weapons. It is necessary to ensure conditions exist, required for the by-the-book operation of that equipment, including storage, training, and employment by qualified specialist troops, and also procurement of a proper weapons, fuel, or food supplies stockpile. However, to achieve this goal, funding is needed in the years to come, not only for the direct purchase of weapon systems but also for investment in other tasks.

What about the Orka Submarine programme, what is the concept for its implementation? For the Navy, contracts have already been signed for surface combatants: frigates, MCMVs, or reconnaissance ships, but the issue of submarines is still unresolved.

The leadership of the Ministry of National Defence is aware of the current technical and organizational status of the Polish submarine forces and seeks to maintain the combat potential and training of the submarine crews.

In light of these circumstances, the Ministry of National Defence has initiated action required to make it possible to launch the acquisition of submarines. A Preliminary Market Consultation for the acquisition of submarines is currently underway. Within the framework of that process, the development of Equipment Requirements and a Feasibility Study is to be finalized.

In line with the adopted assumptions, by the end of Q2 2024, it is planned to develop and approve the Equipment Requirements, together with the Feasibility Study for the Orka programme, which will result in the launch of the procurement process. The date for signing the contract for the delivery of military equipment will depend on the date on which negotiations with the contractor(s) are concluded.

Speaking more generally, I would like to ask you about your observations tied to overseeing the operation of the procurement system. How do you assess that system? And how should we approach the assignment of R&D work to the Polish industry? A major portion of the equipment that we are procuring now, like Borsuk, ZSSW, or Wisła radars comes from the work that was ordered a decade ago. How can competitiveness be maintained over periods so long?

Supervision of the functioning of the military procurement system is a key element in ensuring an efficient and effective process in which the Armed Forces receive the modern armament they need. Decisive action is needed here, aimed at improving the procurement system supervision, especially in relation to the transparency of the decision-making processes.

The ministry’s current leadership has set up a team to evaluate the functioning of the military equipment procurement system, with the main objective of developing conclusions and recommendations based on an analysis of the contracts concluded in recent years. In summary, it is necessary to constantly monitor the activities related to the acquisition of military equipment and to evaluate the process to ensure that it is highly effective.

R&D efforts have a key significance though. On the one hand, they have resulted in the development of modern weapons systems; on the other hand, it is necessary to think about ordering new R&D efforts, but within a different framework, because the previously functioning system was inefficient and led to delays.

Referring to the issue of research and development, it is most important to clearly define the objectives and expectations tied to the research and its results. Nonetheless, the suggestions and opinions submitted by the contractor need to be taken into account. A joint search for the best solutions and strategies is also required, which would allow for accomplishing the assumed goals.

I have no doubts whatsoever, when it comes to the relevance and need to conduct R&D in Poland, whereas it is necessary to select proven partners who have potential and experience in the given area and thus can guarantee high quality of the expected product.

To maintain competitiveness in long-term projects such as those mentioned in the previous question, it is necessary to continuously invest in the development of modern technologies and to build collaborations with other research institutions and companies to share knowledge and experience. In doing so, it is also worth considering cooperation with foreign partners in order to benefit from their know-how and technology. With proper implementation of these principles, it will be possible to effectively develop the potential of the Polish defence industry.

Finally, I would like to ask you about the new, European strategy defined for the defence industry. What opportunities and dangers can you see concerning that strategy? Also taking into account the fact that Poland cooperates extensively with the USA and the UK, very important NATO members not participating in the EU?

The EDIS (European Defence Industrial Strategy) is an important step towards strengthening the European defence technological and industrial base as a cornerstone of the EU’s security, which is particularly important given the current security situation in the region, determined by Russia’s aggression against Ukraine.

EDIS provides several tools to stimulate defence cooperation among member states by defining areas of common interest and projects, and joint defence procurement. The second key aspect is the provision of support for industrial capacity development. Financial support is to be provided to SMEs and mid-cap companies through the Defence Supply Chain Transformation Acceleration Fund, designed to increase access to financing, counteracting the threat to volume adaptability and R&D. These companies are also to receive funding for the expansion of production capacity in jointly agreed areas within the EU - following on from the Act in Support of Ammunition Production regulation of July 20th 2023.

The strategy also set the objective of enhancing the security of supply on a pan-European basis, in the context of continued uninterrupted access to essential defence products and ensuring an effective response to possible future disruptions to the supply of defence products and at the level of raw material and intermediate product supply chains. Instruments targeting the industry will also be designed to support investment in flexible (scalable) production capacity, capable of responding to changing demand from Member States.

Other areas of change that the EDIS strategy can stimulate support for the standardisation and interchangeability of military equipment to aid interoperability, simplification and harmonization of procurement processes, standardization of procedures for the initiation and management of joint programmes and increased funding for such initiatives, the European Defence Sales Mechanism as a set of actions to ensure timely and adequate availability of European defence products to strengthen the competitiveness of European industrial base players, and support for EDF (European Defence Fund) projects to move from the research phase to the commercialisation phase.

However, competence in the area of defence has always been on the side of the Member States, so increased cooperation may involve risks. How did you define them?

We have several demands related to the implementation of this strategy. Firstly, Poland has acknowledged the need for very balanced measures aimed at eliminating market fragmentation and avoiding excessive concentration of purchases in the largest entities of the EU defence sector - so as not to harm the diversification of military equipment production capacities across the EU, not to reduce the capacity of the EU industry in the long term, and not to undermine the security of supplies. It is also necessary to ensure that there is an appropriate threat perception in the EU, which will determine the joint prioritization of capabilities and procurement needs.

Another issue is the need for the EC to cooperate tangibly with Member States and industry in implementing the provisions of EDIS and in the consultative bodies to be established under EDIS. In this context, we see the importance of the Defence Industry Readiness Board, which would be a kind of guarantee for the participation and voice of the Member States in the actions and aspirations of the Commission so that it does not overextend, national ones, its prerogatives towards the defence sector. We would like to make sure that the national voice matters and prevails in strategic decisions, hence the relevant provisions in the EDIP (European Defence Investment Programme) regulation giving authority to the DIRB (Defence Industry Readiness Board) or EDA (European Defence Agency) or other collective bodies.

In addition, the EC also envisages innovative and, it seems, challenging solutions in the area of promoting cooperation and joint procurement. This refers to the Structure of the European Armaments Programme. SEAP would be formed by a certain minimum number of countries, it would have a legal personality and a statute, it would also be able to engage in independent or indirect procurement efforts, make investments in the launch of manufacturing or life-cycle support, and make commitments.

How are the financing schemes assessed? And should access to cooperation be given to NATO members who are not a part of the EU but provide the greatest capabilities: the UK, and the US?

Adequate funding of the mechanisms described therein will also be crucial to the implementation of EDIS, the amount of EUR 1.5 billion seems to be inadequately low, compared to the actual needs. Within this context, we also await the results from the implementation of the EDIRPA (European Defence Industry Through Common Reinforcement Procurement) and ASAP regulations.

When it comes to cooperation with the US and UK, as non-EU countries, the Union’s instruments to support its defence industry must be open to like-minded non-EU partners, NATO allies in particular. Their defence entities should be viewed as partners who can add value to European defence projects and help maintain the West’s technological edge over Russia and China, rather than as commercial competitors.

I would add that essential provisions in this regard are being negotiated by Member States for the draft regulation implementing EDIS, i.e. the Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing a programme for the European defence industry and a framework of measures to ensure the timely availability and supply of defence-related products (‘EDIP’).

The Government’s position on the EDIP project is currently being developed. The final wording of its provisions will ultimately determine the implementation of the strategy and the instruments envisaged therein. The leading institution in the work is the Ministry of Development and Technology working with the Ministry of Defence, the Ministry of Finance the Ministry of State Assets, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, among others.

Thank you for this conversation.