– It is in our interest that Poland maintains good cooperation in the field of defense policy and armaments not only with the United States, but also with EU countries. Especially those with a strong arms industry – emphasizes prof. Paweł Soroka, coordinator of the Polish Industrial Lobby. As he points out, in recent years it is Americans who buy weapons worth tens of billions of zlotys, but involvement in EU defense programs should also grow.
– It is in the interest of Poland’s defense that we should cooperate well with the United States, and above all with NATO, but not neglect good relations with the European Union. It’s always better to have two partners, colloquially speaking, it’s better to play several pianos. Such diversification is an opportunity to obtain modern technologies from different countries, but most of all, it strengthens cooperation and increases the defense capabilities of Poland, which is a country on the eastern flank, a NATO front country – emphasizes in an interview with the Newseria Biznes agency, Prof. Paweł Soroka, coordinator of the Polish Industrial Lobby, researcher at the Institute of International Relations and Public Policies at the Jan Kochanowski University in Kielce.
For years, Poland has been developing cooperation with the United States and has been buying weapons worth tens of billions of zlotys from Americans. This includes a contract signed in 2018 for the purchase of Patriots, i.e. a medium-range air defense system included in the Wisła program. Its first elements are to be delivered to Poland this year, and it is worth $ 4.75 billion. the agreement is the largest defense contract in Polish history so far. The second in line is signed in 2020 and is worth $ 4.6 billion. a contract for the purchase of 32 US fifth-generation F-35 combat aircraft along with logistics and crew training.
In addition, in recent years, Poland has also bought, among others HIMARS rocket launchers (for $ 414 million), manufactured by the American arms concern Lockheed Martin, which are to be delivered in 2023, and a few months ago it finalized a contract for the purchase of 250 Abrams tanks in the most modern version.
– Recent months prove that Poland is open primarily to armaments cooperation with the United States, and that is where the most important orders are placed – says the expert.
In the July interview, this was also confirmed by the head of the Ministry of National Defense, Mariusz Błaszczak, who indicated that “the United States is our strategic partner and the most important ally”. Some experts note, however, that the complicated weapon systems purchased from the Americans in many cases do not include the offset, and the functioning of the Polish Armed Forces in the hardware area increasingly depends on cooperation with the US.
– It is in our interest that Poland maintains good cooperation in the field of defense policy and armaments not only with the United States, but also with the countries of the European Union. Especially those with a strong arms industry – emphasizes prof. Paweł Soroka.
In recent weeks, the Ministry of National Defense has also signed three large arms contracts with South Korea: for the purchase of K9 howitzers, new FA-50 aircraft and K2 tanks (for the amount of USD 3.37 billion, the first 180 units are to be delivered to Poland this year). The latter – called “little Abrams” – were created in accordance with the NATO standard and with the significant participation of American companies.
– This means that significant funds will be allocated to cooperation with these countries, mainly with the US defense industry. As a result, Poland does not participate as much – as it could, given its potential – in European defense cooperation. Of course, we take part in programs initiated by the European Defense Agency (EDA), but these are smaller-scale programs, mainly of scientific and research nature – says the coordinator of the Polish Industry Lobby. – We should participate more actively in PESCO projects and open up to the use of the European Defense Fund, because these are additional EU funds.-
Analysis of the European Commission from May this year. points to serious gaps in defense investment in EU countries. Therefore, a number of projects are planned that are to simultaneously strengthen security and increase the capabilities of the European defense industry. One of the tools is to be a financial instrument to encourage joint defense procurement. This year alone, 1.9 billion euros from the European Defense Fund will go to research and development projects to stimulate innovation in this area. The EFO’s budget for 2021-2027 is almost EUR 8 billion.
The expert notes that Poland does not participate, for example, in the program of building a new European tank, which is being implemented by the Germans and the French. Meanwhile, such joint programs of EU countries are an opportunity not only to strengthen cooperation in the field of defense and foreign policy, but also to obtain innovative technologies.
– These joint orders and programs of the European Union in the field of defense may be an opportunity for the Polish defense industry. Especially where we are dealing with work on the latest generation technologies – points out prof. Paweł Soroka. – It should also be remembered that at the moment dual-use military technologies, the so-called dual-use technologies. This means that they quickly become applicable in the civil sphere and may ensure the flow of modern technologies to other areas of the economy and contribute to its development.
As Minister Mariusz Błaszczak assures, the Ministry of National Defense is determined to provide the Polish Armed Forces with the best weapons in the shortest possible time in connection with the Russian invasion of Ukraine. This, however, requires an increase in expenditure on reinforcements. This is to be made possible by the adopted in March this year. law on defense of the Fatherland. It provides for an increase in the size of the Polish army (from 111.5 thousand to approx. 250-300 thousand professional soldiers and from 32 thousand to 50 thousand soldiers of the Territorial Defense Forces), as well as an increase in the budget for defense and technical modernization of the army in the amount not lower than 2.2 percent GDP in 2022 and at least 3% GDP in 2023 and subsequent years. The budget for next year assumes expenditure at the level of over PLN 97 billion.
– These programs, which involve the acquisition of weapons from the United States or South Korea, will be very expensive. This is a very modern, expensive weapon and it will be a lot of money, which requires an increase in military spending. And this growth is already taking place – says the coordinator of the Polish Industrial Lobby.
NATO countries are required to spend at least 2 percent on defense. your GDP. Poland is implementing it – in the March analysis, the Polish Economic Institute calculated that in recent years Polish spending on this purpose has amounted to an average of 2.2 percent, but NATO obligations have not been met, at least so far, by many other EU countries. The average was around 1.5 percent. GDP. According to the data of the Stockholm International Institute for Peace Research (SIPRI), such a ceiling was maintained, among others, by Germany, Italy or Spain. The burden of NATO obligations was mainly based on the US, which spent 3.7% on armaments. its GDP, and in countries directly bordering Russia.
– When it comes to spending funds on defense of EU Member States, it was bad, especially after the financial and economic crisis in 2008. He caused a reduction in military spending, which has only recently increased, says a defense expert. – States that feel more endangered, including Baltic countries, including Poland. In turn, Germany, which has a powerful arms industry and exports a lot to foreign markets, spent about 1.2 percent on defense for a long time. your GDP. This meant that today the condition of their army is not very good, they have a lot of defective weapons. Only this year, after the outbreak of the war in Ukraine, a decision was made to allocate over EUR 100 billion to defense.