Wisła Programme Reboot. Was the Polish President misled?

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According to the Ministry of Defence, president Komorowski must have been misled, when the recommendations were made, according to which the US made Patriot system was advertised as the best prospective medium range air defence and anti-missile defence system for Poland. In the eyes of the Polish Minister of Defence, the former government could have breached the national security barriers. The whole tender is going to, most probably, be realized from scratch.

During the first meeting of the Defence Commission, Minister Antoni Macierewicz stated that the situation related to the Wisła programme is far more complicated, than the current state of affairs within the helicopter tender. He directly stated that “after a scrutiny of the tender it turned out that somebody has misled the President of Poland” [Komorowski].

According to the Ministry of Defence, “conditions of that potential contract which has not yet been signed – to make it clear – have been significantly changed from the moment when it was presented to the public: price is significantly higher, delivery period is significantly longer, and the transitional conditions for implementation – completely unknown to the implementing party.

Briefly speaking, this contract is non-existent. And it seems that this is caused by the fact that Mr President has been misled - this is the only way that such declaration could have been made [eds. - declaration pertaining selection of the Patriot system].

It is hard for me to imagine that, should the situation be different, Mr. President Bronisław Komorowski would have taken the risk, disregarding the citizens and the foreign partners, risk of stating that such contract is going to be implemented. Thus, the president could only have been misled. And, obviously, the reasons for the fact that the President was misled, need to be clarified. The Ministry of Defence is interested in fair and equal and effective talks, with our US Partners.

The air defence system, covered with the “Wisła” programme, is an important task. This task must be realized. Unfortunately, in no way does the contract (related to the Patriot system - ed.) make it possible, even in the most expansive promises, not confirmed with any documents, or any international commitments, it does not make it possible to reach the required level of national defence, before 2023 – 2030. The above means that it is obvious, within the scope of the Polish national security, that such perspective does not provide us with the required chances… It does not meet the conditions related to defence of our country”.

Why there are some objections, when it comes to the Patriot system

The assessments of the procedures carried out by the Armament Inspectorate of the Polish Ministry of Defence, published by website, have turned out to depict reality with a high degree of fidelity. We have noted, above all, that the Ministry of Defence selected a non-existent air defence suite. We have also informed that the officials of the Ministry of Defence tried to mislead the Members of Parliament and journalists, stating that Poland is going to acquire a combat-proven system, and that a prototype for the Polish variant of the suite is ready (Patriot POL).

The Raytheon company itself confirmed it later, that works are being realized, the aim of which is to create an open command system and a controlled battery (which is going to be different from the system which is being introduced into service by the US Forces, in cooperation with the Northrop Grumman company, in the prospective US integrated air defence system) and a fire-control radar.

If the need of designing new launchers on “polonized” chassis is taken into account, then we can see that the Patriot POL system must be designed from scratch. Containers with the anti-aircraft missiles are the only solution that may be used, that would come from the previous variant of the suite.

Selecting an incomplete system was awkward, since – for the same reason (lack of readiness) – the Ministry also rejected the MEADS suite. What’s interesting, the latter missile suite has been selected by the Germans, a few weeks later.

Patriot POL system does not have full 360 degrees coverage, meaning that its capabilities vary, depending on direction from which the target approaches the battery. After the initial negotiations with the US, it became clear that the schedule for implementation of so called “bridge batteries” and “target batteries” is going to be completely different.

The price of the final variant of the Patriot POL system has also gone up. When it comes to the unofficial information, the cost, referring only to the first two “bridge” batteries, was to be contained in an amount of USD 3 billion. Meanwhile, the plans assumed that eight batteries were to be procured, which doubled the cost, in relation to the assumed expenses. In reality, the whole procedure could have turned out even worse – until today, nobody has been able to provide pricing estimates for the final version of the Patriot POL battery, the price of which will be certainly higher than the prices of the “bridge batteries”, e.g. because of the fact that a radar with three fixed active phased arrays is to be used in the final product.

Moreover, it was noted that the technology transfer was undefined and limited. We have also informed that the area of technology transfer, regarding the AESA radar arrays using the gallium nitride technology, is one of the strategic conditions, considering the needs of the Polish defence industry. Meanwhile, the Raytheon company did not even think of such transfer, at the current stage of negotiations.

What’s next for the Wisła programme?

Minister Macierewicz expressed some negative opinions, regarding the way in which the procedures related to the Wisła programme were carried out: “Speaking of the fact that the Wisła programme has any shape, in a situation when no actions have been made within that matter, no real reconnaissance has been executed, no real talks are being carried out, constitutes, in fact, a threat for the Republic of Poland.

This is because the above constitutes an act of misleading, regarding the citizens, and the organ – the parliamentary commission. I think that these consequences shall be seriously considered. Because one cannot cross some certain limits, within the area of national security. And you [referring to the Civic Platform MPs] have crossed that line, within the scope related to the Wisła programme.”

These words probably mean that the offers are going to be reconsidered, while the perpetrators are pushed away from the whole procedure in question.