Poland begins to increase its defence expenditure. The goal is to significantly bolster the armed forces’ potential, in line with the assumptions contained within the Strategic Defence Review. Adoption of those assumptions within the 2018 budget would mean that changes prepared for the modernization programmes, planned by the Polish Ministry of Defence, would become real.
Polish Ministry of Defence has announced that defence expenditure within the 2018 defence budget would go up to the level equivalent to 2% of GDP for the current year. Such amount has been, following a request placed by Antoni Macierewicz, Polish Defence Minister, taken into account within the scope of assumptions of the next year’s budgetary act, approved by the government. Adoption of increased level of defence expenditure, within the assumptions placed at the foundation of the budgetary act means that the plans made by the Ministry, concerning the bolstering of the potential remaining at the disposal of the Polish military, would become real.
Lately, Polish Ministry of Defence has published a number of documents which may, consequently, have a relevant impact on the course of the technical modernization process:
Polish National Defence Concept
The said concept is a publicly available variant of the Strategic Defence Review, defining the directions for modernization of the Armed Forces in long term. The concept places an emphasis on the ability to defend the Polish territory. The plans assume that new main battle tanks and 5th generation fighter aircraft would be introduced, with increased number of soldiers and command system reform to complement the steps above.
Modernization Act (“Act changing the Act on reconstruction and technical modernization and funding of the Polish Armed Forces and the Public Procurement Law Act”).
The Act which is being prepared assumes that Poland would increase the defence expenditure up to 2.2% of GDP until the year 2020 and 2.5% of GDP until the year 2030. The defence expenditure is going to be calculated, starting from the year 2018, on the basis of the “current” year, which translates into actual growth, assuming that GDP and inflation remain on the positive side of scale. Moreover, Polish Ministry’s of Defence flexibility would be enhanced, within the scope of taking the procurement decisions, as advance payment amount would go up from 25 to 50%. The Act also allows for increase of the number of soldiers up to 200 thousand, 130 thousand of which would be tied with the Army professionally. Currently, the maximum number of troops is 150 thousand. This step would make it possible to form the Territorial Defence component seen as a new branch of the Army, secondly, the newly implemented regulations would also facilitate increase of the number of troops in the operational forces.
Polish Ministry of Defence is willing to expand the scope of modernization. This is proven by the plan to increase the defence expenditure and expand the army quantitatively. The Defence Concept assumes that modernization would be carried out in a complex manner, so that proper capabilities are acquired with regards to joint operations in national and allied defence. Procurement of the new equipment is not contradictory to modernization of the existing inventory.
The main modernization’s driving factor is to remain capable of defending the territory of Poland/allies. Polish Ministry of Defence is willing to, in steps, bolster the Armed Forces’ ability to defend the country, thus planning procurement of hardware which would be most usable within that scope. For example, the above concerns the 5th Generation fighter aircraft, main battle tanks, air defence system, A2/AD abilities, anti-tank defence (with the latter component also including the attack helicopters). For the Polish Ministry of Defence, it remains a priority to work on formation of the Territorial Defence component, seen as a separate branch of the Armed Forces. The formation would remain in need of acquiring modern vehicles, communication systems, individual weaponry, and so on.
Cancellation of the priority programmes resolution would not tran late into closure of those programmes. Not only are the programmes contained in the previous modernization plans, and the purpose of which is focused on territory-defence, including Wisła and Narew air defence systems, Krab, Kryl, Rak and Homar artillery systems, going to progress, but their scope may also be expanded. Cancellation of the Resolution is to provide the MoD with a greater spending freedom.The Polish Ministry of Defence does not want to define the amount of money which is to be spent, during the given year, on the specific programme.
Another piece of evidence that proves that the MoD in Poland is willing to obtain a greater degree of freedom is the plan to increase the permissible amounts of advance payment, concerning the contracts concluded. Polish Ministry of Defence wants to buy more equipment, maybe even more quickly, but in line with own assumptions, not necessarily in the way adopted by the former government, without a rigid framework.
Programmes related to expeditionary capabilities, such as Miecznik vessels programme or procurement of the multi-role helicopters, may face a delay though. Nonetheless, the aforesaid delay does not mean that the effort to acquire the aforesaid armament would be abandoned altogether. This constitutes solely a change of priorities. The said process is also to make it possible to abolish the resolution that defines the priority tasks within the process of modernization.