Members of the Parliamentary Group dealing with the issues of the Polish Army have defined their opinion in front of the Minister of Defence, regarding the procedures related to acquisition of the submarines. They indicate that Poland cannot afford to buy submarines that are not equipped with cruise missiles. The group expects that the process of acquiring the missiles will be carried out in parallel to the acquisition procedures related to the submarines. Missile procurement shall not be postponed.
The opinion sent to the Minister of Defence on 22nd October 2014 has been created during the meeting of the Parliamentary Group on 25th September 2014. Its subject was: “Proceedings regarding acquisition of new type of a submarine – current status and presentation of the bidders”. The meeting has been attended, besides the members of parliament, by representatives of two companies that are taking part in the proceedings – the French DCNS and the Swedish Saab company (German TKMS Company did not attend the meeting).
Why the tactical-technical requirements regarding the submarines have been changed?
The MPs have, with satisfaction, accepted the “decision regarding update of the initial tactical-technical requirements, which take into account equipping the new type of submarine with cruise missiles.” On the other hand though, they asked the Minister of Defence to justify, in writing, the resignation decision of the Navy regarding equipping the new submarines with two electricity generating systems.
This issue is no longer connected, as it is in case of the cruise missiles, with equipping the submarines with additional armament enhancing their combat capability, but decrease in safety standard resulting from resigning from one electricity generating system on board. The new assumptions create some doubts, as to whether a submarine would be still be combat capable if the sole electricity-generating system is damaged.
Decision regarding the changes in the tactical and technical requirements has made it possible for the German 212A submarine to be included in the proceedings. At the same time, an external observer may get an impression, that the decision has completely changed the Polish Navy’s attitude towards the safety issues. Using a single electricity generating system in 212A subs has been probably justified by the German tactics, which assumed such selection of the operating waters, in case of which the submarine would be capable to return to base using solely the electric power or using the AIP.
This is a completely different approach from the one that has been pursued by the Navy. The submarine which will be equipped with a single electricity generating source, after using the AIP accumulated energy, will have to, in order to be safe, be located in a place from which the base would be reachable with the use of electricity. According to the opinion of the Parliamentary Group, the PMs want to know the reasons for change of the decision regarding the change of this significant requirement.
Submarines? Yes, but only with cruise missiles
In the opinion of the members of the Parliamentary Group dealing with the issues of the Polish Army, acquisition of cruise missiles parallel to acquisition of the submarines is a solution here, which needs to be pursued in order to achieve proper deterrence capabilities. These are needed from a strategic point of view. At the same time – the public money which is to be used to procure the submarines needs to be spent effectively.
The above has been a reason for the statement by the leader of the group, MP Michał Jach, who told the Minister of Defence that the team “expects that, parallel to the proceedings related to acquiring new type of submarine, the Armament Inspectorate will establish and procure specific type of cruise missiles, that would constitute the basic armament of the submarines. It is a condition needed if the new submarines are to improve the Poland’s strategic safety, as having proper quantity of means of deterrence is a basic factor that would contribute to that. The team has an opinion that Poland cannot afford submarines that are not equipped with the cruise missiles.”.
Hence the MPs do not share the opinion of the MoD specialists, who tend to think that several cruise missiles aboard the submarines are not going to change the Polish deterrence policy in a significant way. Similar opinions have already lost their value, especially after the claims that the Polish Armed Forces will acquire 40 AGM-158 JASSM missiles for the F-16 fighters. Here a question arises – why 40 air-to-ground missiles which are to be carried by multi-role jets are considered to be a significant increase in the deterrence capabilities, while potential acquisition of similar precision-strike system for the submarines is treated with less emphasis.
There are some doubts, according to which tailoring the submarines for operation with the cruise missiles, achieved by installing longer torpedo launchers and “longer” armament loading system, will result in ineffective use of money. When a ready submarine is to be a platform, on which a completely new system is to be installed, and significant changes in the combat system would be needed, additional significant costs would be unavoidable.
Additionally there are some doubts regarding potential acquisition of cruise missiles later, after the submarines are procured. There are many factors suggesting that potential suppliers will not be willing to sell cruise missiles separately from the submarines, not only due to the economic reasons, but mainly due to the politics. Hence, so far, Poland received offers regarding acquisition of the French MdCN/NCM rockets. Procurement of these will be possible only in a bundle with Scorpène submarines.
The MPs have requested the Minister of Defence to “present the current schedule regarding realisation of the Orka programme”.
Constructing submarines in Poland
Members of the Parliamentary Group which deals with the issues of the Polish Army have told the Minister of Defence that they do not “accept information provided by the representative of the Armament Inspectorate, according to which, if the submarines are to be constructed in Poland, the building process would be mainly focused on putting the ready elements of the submarine received from the supplier...”.
The MPs have also pointed out a fact that: “everything needs to be done in order to execute the contract with highest level of involvement of the Polish industry and Polish technologies”. The MPs state that during execution of the submarine programme, using the capabilities of the Polish industry to the fullest extent needs to be taken into account, hence option of constructing the submarines in Poland should also be considered.