Poland Inks a Massive Purchase of Piorun MANPADS

Photo. Mateusz Multarzyński/Defence24

Mariusz Błaszczak, head of the Polish Ministry of Defence has just approved an annex to the agreement concerning the delivery of Piorun MANPADS for the Polish military. The annex envisages an additional acquisition of 3.5 thousand missiles and 600 launch mechanisms, with the delivery of the first examples expected to happen by the end of this year.

The scope of the annex is relatively broad since the 2016 agreement originally covered the delivery of 420 launch units and 1,300 missiles. The former contract has been mostly completed. As stressed by the Armament Agency, the deliveries covered by the annex would be happening would start from now and last until 2023, in parallel to the base procurement. Then they would extend the deadline and ensure procurement continuity, regarding the procurement involving the Polish defence industry. The annex has a value of PLN 3.5 bn. gross (approx. USD 780 million).

Some of the Polish Piorun MANPADS have been transferred to Ukraine, as a part of the Polish military aid scheme. There the missiles have been used in combat, against Russian aircraft, helicopters, and UAVs. Before the Russian aggression against Ukraine got intensified, the US DoD had signed a procurement agreement regarding the Piorun missiles as well.

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Polish Mesko company is the manufacturer of the Piorun MANPADS. The company has been declaring its readiness to increase its manufacturing capabilities, to meet the growing demand. Earlier on up to 300 missiles had been delivered per annum. 600 is the expected 2022 manufacturing output, and as of 2023, the company would be manufacturing up to 1,000 systems per year. Piorun is a Polish MANPADS derived from the legacy Grom design. It has been developed by Mesko (consortium leader), CRW-Telesystem-Mesko (responsible for the guidance unit), and the Military University of Technology - within the framework of a joint R&D effort.

The system features a programmable seeker that is resistant to countermeasures, and it also features a proximity sensor. The seeker's operation can be tailored to match a specific target before the missile is launched - this enhances the kill probability. The launch mechanism also features an optoelectronic sensor that makes it possible to conduct operations during the daytime, and at night (thermal imaging channel

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Piorun can neutralize threats at a distance from 400 meters to 6.5 kilometers, flying at altitudes ranging from 10 meters to 4 kilometers. The missile’s average velocity is 560 meters per second. It can be shoulder-launched, or be integrated on Pilica/Poprad anti-aircraft systems. During the Defence24 DAY it was announced that work has been launched to develop a new variant of the Piorun missile, known under the working name Piorun 3.0. No details have been disclosed so far. Mesko S.A. and its partners have also launched an effort to develop an entirely new class of SAMs with a range exceeding 10 kilometers - previously this missile had been named Piorun 2 or Piorun+.