Armed Forces

Poland Spends PLN 1 Billion to Cover Procurement of the Piorun MANPADS. JASSM-ER Deal Closing In

“Piorun” MANPADS contract has been concluded. 1300 missiles and 420 launchers are expected to be acquired for the Polish Army between 2017 and 2022. The value of the deal was estimated as PLN 932 million. The agreement has been signed, in the presence of the Polish Minister of Defence, Antoni Macierewicz, by and between the Armament Inspectorate of the Polish Ministry of Defence and the MESKO S.A. company which is a part of the Polish Armaments Group. During the event, Head of the Polish Ministry of Defence also announced that Bartosz Kownacki, Vice-Minister of Defence, has received, during his visit to the United States, a Letter of Acceptance concerning the procurement of the AGM-158B JASSM-ER missiles for the Polish Air Force.

In the presence of the Polish Minister of Defence, Antoni Macierewicz, and Polish Armaments Group’s President of the Board, Arkadiusz Siwko, the relevant document has been signed by: Head of the Armament Inspectorate, Col. Dariusz Pluta, President of the Management Board at MESKO S.A., Waldemar Skowron, and Member of the Board of the MESKO S.A. company, Dariusz Szlafka. The amount required to cover the contract-related purchase is PLN 932 million, and the initiative concerns procurement of 1300 (not 1600, as it had been announced before) Piorun MANPADS, along with 420 launchers of a new type, with a day/night sight. The initial 150 missiles are to be received by the Ordering Party next year. As it was stressed by Macierewicz, the said missiles will also be used by the three newly formed Territorial Defence units. 

The contract has a value of 932 million zlotys, within its framework the Polish Armed Forces would acquire 1300 examples of a missile along with 420 launcher systems, this is one of the larger contracts, and this type of contracts would be implemented starting from 2017 (...) The initial brigades, at the end of that year will be equipped with this weapon. (...) It is a defensive weapon, a means of protection. It is not an aggressive weapon. We are equipping our military units above all with weaponry, the purpose of which is to defend Poland, not posing a threat or attacking anybody.

Antoni Macierewicz, Polish Minister of Defence

Piorun MANPADS (also known under the designation of Grom-M) has been developed jointly by the Military University of Technology, working together with the CRW Telesystem-Mesko Sp. z o.o and MESKO S.A. companies. The development works took into account many years of experience related to the operational use of MANPADS. In comparison with the Grom system, utilized by the Polish Army and numerous export users (including Lithuania), the newly developed Piorun solution is to have a longer range, and it is to be capable of attacking targets flying at higher altitudes. The missile has been fitted with a digital guidance system of a new generation, with higher resistance to jamming, and a proximity detonator which allows for more effective destruction of the targets, without hitting them directly. Piorun missiles are, to a higher degree, able to neutralize targets such as cruise missiles or UAVs.

This contract finalizes the expenditure plan contained within this year’s budget, the effect of which is seen in spending all of the money the taxpayers have given us, in order to modernize the Polish Army. (...) Many thanks should go to everybody who made a contribution to conclusion of this agreement before the end of the year.

Antoni Macierewicz, Polish Minister of Defence

Thanks to the fact that a thermal sight has been coupled with the system, the Piorun MANPADS is capable of acting against targets at night, as well as during the day. Piorun MANPADS can be used against helicopters, aircraft and other airborne targets flying at altitudes from 10 to 4000 meters, and at distances between 500 and 6500 meters from the operator.

Piorun Macierewicz Siwko
Image Credit: J. Sabak

Acquisition of the Piorun missiles will expand the anti-aircraft capabilities of the Polish air defence elements, when acting against low flying targets, such as helicopters.  The missiles will also be used within the Pilica and Poprad VSHORAD systems, also operated by the Polish Army. This is quite important, since the Poprad system contracted last year is to constitute one of the key elements of the IADS (Integrated Air Defence System), at its lowest level. 

During the event of signing the Piorun MANPADS agreement, Minister Macierewicz announced that “a contract concerning the extended range JASSM missiles has been brought from the United States”. Vice-Minister of Defence published an information via his Twitter account, including a photo presenting the official transfer of the agreement from the Americans, which took place during his official visit in the United States. According to Macierewicz, relevant contract concerning the JASSM-ER missiles is expected to be signed by the end of this year. AGM-158B JASSM-ER missiles will constitute the armament for the Polish F-16 fighters, becoming an element of the deterrence system.