Polish Army: Lack of Modernization Funds. Kownacki: “No chances of implementation, considering the current GDP”

Image Credit: Second Lieutenant Robert Suchy/DKS MON.
Image Credit: Second Lieutenant Robert Suchy/DKS MON.

Bartosz Kownacki, Secretary of State at the Polish Ministry of Defence once again expressed his doubts related to the technological army modernization plan developed by the former government. As it was stated by the Deputy Minister in his interview for “Rzeczpospolita”, the programme is overestimated, and thus no chances exist to implement it fully, considering the current GDP.

As it was indicated by Kownacki, implementation of the modernization programme, pertaining solely to the most urgent and “simplest” of its elements, such as the sections related to the attack helicopters and medium range “Wisła” air defence systems, would lead to a complete drainage of funds. This means that the Ministry would not have sufficient funds to finance the Krab, Rak or Narew programmes, with the Narew SHORAD system expected to be realized domestically to as large extent as possible.  

We assumed that PLN 32 billion is a sum which we may spend throughout the upcoming three years. After we calculated the level of the other spending elements, we would have only PLN 15 billion left for modernization” - as it was stated by Kownacki in Rzeczpospolita daily.

The Polish official also assured that the “Wisła” programme is one of the key elements of the Polish defence capabilities, which are currently missing. The Ministry is willing to develop a programme which would assume as large involvement of the domestic industry as possible. However, Kownacki stated that the funds would not be sufficient to simultaneously develop short and medium range air defence systems. Nonetheless, no decisions have been made as to which of the programmes would be considered a priority. 

In case of redefinition of the modernization plan, three factors are going to be taken into consideration, including the budgetary options, replacement of the old equipment and interests of the domestic industry. As it was noted by Kownacki, the above is not tantamount to cuts. The whole modernization programme, consisting of around 800 items, will not suffer from them. We do not know though, when the Ministry is going to be able to make any relevant decisions, since currently analytical-concept phase is in progress, preceding the negotiation stage. Prospective thinking is, as Kownacki stated, also quite a significant problem. Here, the official referred to the case of Rosomak APC which, in several years, will have to be replaced with a new platform. However, as Kownacki noted, nobody in Poland even thinks about this. 

Bartosz Kownacki is also optimistic, when it comes to the development of the Polish defence industry. As it was stated by the politician, “the industry is in a terrible condition”, but “it is <<rescuable>>”. Here, putting the money and the technologies into a proper use and resignation from R&D works related to products which already exist on the market are said to be the indispensable rectifying measures. Huta Stalowa Wola and the Krab howitzer were mentioned by Kownacki as relevant examples. There is a need to “buy a license and then change it, to create a product which would be almost original” - as it was summed up by the politician. 

Where is the money?

Information related to an erroneous estimation of the costs of the Technical Modernization Plan was released back in April, by Defence Minister Macierewicz. According to the head of the Polish Ministry of Defence, PLN 235 billion would be required to implement the programme in line with the assumptions adopted by the former government. This means that a sum of around PLN 100 billion would be missing. Cost difference so large would make implementation of the whole plan, in its original shape, questionable.  

As it was stated by the Defence Minister, irresponsible planning was the case, during the process of creating the programme. As a consequence, e.g. “perfect cannons were created, but without ammunition, since no money was left to buy the ammunition”. At the same time, as the Minister assessed, the defence budget was not used fully in the preceding years, due to, as Minister stated, “corruption and inefficiency of the military administration”.