US State Department has issued an approval concerning the sales of the first lots of the GMLRS rockets and ATACMS missiles for the prospective Polish Homar rocket artillery system. The said platform is expected to be created by a consortium led by the PGZ Group working together with the Lockheed Martin company. The value of the potential contract may be as high as USD 250 million.
According to the release issued by DSCA, the Polish government submitted a request (that has already been approved) to procure 16 GMLRS M31A1 Unitary rocket systems (with HE-fragmentation warheads) and 9 M30A1 alternative warhead systems (featuring payload used to act against area targets). Even though no direct statement as such was made, the release probably concerns 16 and 9 GMLRS rocket packages of each type (150 in total). Usually the rockets mentioned above are placed within pods, holding 6 effectors each. HIMARS launcher is capable of carrying a single pod, contrary to the M270 MLRS platform which carries two pods.
Furthermore, Poland has also been authorized to acquire 61 M57 ATACMS tactical missiles, with a range of up to 300 kilometres. Moreover, the conclusion issued by the State Department mentions delivery of 34 LCRR training rocket packages (204 effectors in total, similarly as in case of GMLRS), along with eight Universal Position Navigation Units and 1642 guidance and control units for the GMLRS rockets.
Beyond that, the approved document includes testing equipment, PLGR light GPS receivers and elements of a training and support packages. The maximum value of the package has been defined as USD 250 million.
Similarly as in case of the recent approval concerning the Patriot systems with the IBCS suite embedded in the procurement pursued, the Americans are stressing the fact that the proposed transaction is compliant with the Washington’s goals in the area of security and foreign policies. This is because it would support a NATO ally who remains an important actor, within the process of maintaining political stability of Europe. At the same time, the procurement is viewed as a part of the initiative that would see the allies in the region receive systems enhancing the interoperability with the US Armed Forces.
Lockheed Martin is expected to be acting as the main supplier of the equipment in question. The United States officials also stress the fact that the transaction is finalized in parallel with a Direct Commercial Sale process happening between Lockheed Martin and the PGZ Group who acts as the prime contractor within the said programme in Poland. The acquisition is related to the Homar programme pursued by a consortium led by PGZ. Lockheed Martin, within the said initiative, is acting as the foreign partner. The consortium additionally involves other Polish companies or firms, including Huta Stalowa Wola (technical leader), Grudziądz-based WZU facility, Mesko S.A. and Rosomak S.A., with the latter company being responsible for configuration and shape of the command and reconnaissance vehicles.
Within the framework of the expected transaction, Poland would receive elements of the Homar system that are usually a subject to the FMS procedure. This refers to the first package of up to 150 GMLRS effectors (85 km of range, basic ordnance of the HIMARS system) and 61 tactical ATACMS missiles (300 km range). One needs to remember that HIMARS may carry a single ATACMS missile or 6 GMLRS projectiles. The FMS transaction is not covering the launchers or other elements of procurement, since these will probably be a subject to a different mode of acquisition.
Vehicles or elements of the Topaz fire control system, that are also a part of the Homar programme, are to be delivered on the basis of technological potential available domestically. It cannot be ruled out that the maximum number of 1642 control and guidance units would be used for the purpose of manufacturing the GMLRS effector domestically, on the basis of a license. Ultimately HIMARS, and the Homar system as a whole, would be expected to be integrated with the IBCS system which is to be utilized in the Wisła programme.
One shall remember that issuing the notification on the part of DSCA is not tantamount to conclusion of the agreement. However, it constitutes an important step of the finalization process. Additional consent needs to be issued by the Congress. Potential refusal is not probable. Date for initiating the works on the transaction would be set when Poland accepts the so called Letter of Offer and Acceptance (LOA). LOA is an equivalent of a governmental FMS offer.
Originally, the Homar procurement procedure framework assumed that 56 launchers would be acquired in total, for three squadrons using 18 launchers each, along with 2 training launchers. A similar number of systems is probably going to be acquired during the initial stages of the programme. Antoni Macierewicz, Polish Minister of Defence, had been claiming that the Polish Strategic Defence Review foresees a major quantitative increase, when it comes to the shape of the Homar programme. Ultimately, up to 160 launchers could be acquired.
Similar statements were being made by the Polish MoD with regards to the Krab self propelled howitzers, as acquisition of up to 500 systems as such (instead of 120 examples, as it had been planned before) could happen. This is to be done further down the road. Noteworthy, the US military is also planning to modernize its HIMARS launchers.
GMLRS ER missiles would be one of the elements of the expected upgrade, with the range extended up to 150 kilometres. According to the Pentagon’s FY2018 budgetary bill, the development and qualification of the GMLRS ER system would last around 3 years. Furthermore, it is also commonly known that the Bundeswehr has expressed its preliminary interest in acquisition of the said rocket. From the Warsaw’s perspective it would be beneficial to gain access to the technology related to this type of ordnance, since GMLRS would be the most frequently used element of the Homar system. Manufacturing GMLRS rockets in Poland is, hence, quite desirable.
In a longer run, HIMARS launcher is expected to be integrated with the LRPF missile, characterized by a range exceeding 400 kilometres. Two effectors as such could be carried within a single GMLRS pod. However, the said project is in its early stages. The initiative involves both Lockheed Martin as well as the Raytheon company. LRPF is foreseen to be introduced into the US inventory during the upcoming decade.