Without a strong, large and well-equipped army, there is no strong Poland.
The 2022 MSPO International Defense Industry Exhibition is taking place at a very difficult time. The grim specter of war ongoing right behind our border has become a huge challenge. With no particular reason, Russia disrupted the post-war order, and attacked independent Ukraine. That event radically changed the rules of the game, as well as the geopolitical situation in the region and in Europe.
The war also had to affect the process of modernizing our army. We have been consequently developing it for several years, but now this process must accelerate. Our main priority is for equipment to be delivered to the Polish Armed Forces quickly and in large quantities. The objective is for the potential aggressor to think twice before violating our borders, which are also the border of NATO’s eastern flank.
Modernization means purchases, contracts, agreements, deliveries and introducing equipment into service in military units, all of which require appropriate financing. We are doing a lot to secure resources for our security in the Polish budget, keeping in mind the words of Marshal Józef Piłsudski who said: “Independence is a precious, but also a very expensive commodity.”
Poland has long drawn the world’s attention to the risk of conflict that the Kremlin was ready to provoke in the name of their imperialist policy. History clearly showed that Russia’s coexistence with the democratic world was always doomed to fail. Therefore, our government had made the right decisions to significantly strengthen Poland’s defense capabilities, which were later adopted in the Homeland Defense Act. Polish membership in NATO, the largest and the most effective defense alliance in the history of the world, is only one element of our defense policy. The most important thing is to build up the national defense potential – not only by increasing the number of soldiers, but also by continuous technical modernization of the army and providing it with necessary funds.
Therefore, we are increasing the expenditure on Polish defense, and we are opening new channels of funding. We are already one of the leaders among NATO states as regards the share of GDP spent on the military. Next year, this level will increase to 3% and will subsequently grow. The Homeland Defense Act allowed us to obtain additional funds for the modernization from the Armed Forces Support Fund. We all know that modernizing the army is expensive, but it is an investment in our security and in our future.
In order to improve the Polish Armed Forces quickly, we needed an effective entity that would execute the process of procuring equipment and armament. Thus, I have formed the Armament Agency, which consolidates all the hitherto dispersed tasks. This allowed us to not only accelerate the procurement procedures, but also make them more effective.
The war in Ukraine was an additional impulse to accelerate the modernization of our army, but also provided us with priceless analyzes as to what equipment we need and what is effective in actual combat conditions. As a result, we decided to procure equipment such as the combat-proven Krab gun howitzers, or Piorun man-portable air-defense systems, and to develop capabilities connected with the use of UAVs (Bayraktar, FlyEye, Gladius, Warmate). We are also accelerating a very important air defense program, the so-called “Mała Narew” (Little Narew). Two fire units for this SHORAD system are to be delivered before the end of this year. On top of that, we are awaiting the delivery of helicopters for the Polish army aviation, and in the Polish Navy, apart from crucial progress in the Miecznik frigate building program, deliveries of further Kormoran-II class minehunters are ongoing. We have also contracted three more of these.
We are strengthening the Polish Armed Forces in every area. We have ordered advanced wheeled tank destroyers, more engineering equipment to increase the mobility of our forces, as well as advanced remote controlled turret systems, which will first be installed on our KTO Rosomak vehicles, significantly increasing their capabilities of hitting enemy targets. Beside the recent contracts for armament, we have also ordered the most advanced military aircraft in the world – the US fifth-generation F-35s, as well as Patriot systems, thus creating another level of the national air defense system. We have also executed a lot of artillery and anti-tank programs. Their importance has been proven during the war in Ukraine. We are stronger and we are consequently working on reaching higher and higher levels of our military capabilities, and gradually replacing post-Soviet equipment.
The most important reinforcement for Poland and our army in the last couple of months were contracts with our largest ally, the USA, and with South Korea. We are buying world’s most advanced tanks – 250 Abrams in their newest variant – from the USA. We will procure another 166 to fill the needs after donating equipment to Ukraine. We are also interested in purchasing modern artillery in the form of the HIMARS systems (we ordered the first batch from the USA three years ago). Soon, we will also contract further Patriot systems from the USA (the first ones are going to be delivered to Poland by the end of this year), together with missiles and radars, which will allow us to finish the development of the Polish integrated ground-based anti-aircraft and anti-missile defense system. We have also procured, on very preferential terms, 300 multi-purpose mine-resistant ambush-protected (MRAP) vehicles and five C-130H Hercules aircraft. With Korea, we have signed framework agreements on procuring 1,000 K2 tanks, over 600 K9 howitzers, and 48 FA-50 aircraft. It is worth mentioning that the contracts will be executed with significant participation of the Polish defense industry.
These are large, unprecedented numbers, but as a leading NATO eastern flank country, we must have significant fire power. We must deter, and, if necessary, also effectively repel the aggressor. We are building Europe’s largest land forces. The Polish Army is to become one of the most effective formations in the North Atlantic Alliance – thus my efforts to have 300,000 soldiers, including 250,000 in operational units and 50,000 in TDF, and further thousands in the trained and well-equipped reserve. As for the soldiers, they must have modern and battle-tested equipment.
Let us not forget that our national defense capabilities have also been reinforced with the cyberspace defense forces that are still being developed. They are undergoing consecutive formation phases. They are a new type of forces that are very much needed now, as the enemy is operating in cyberspace 24/7.
It has been a year since the last exhibition in Kielce – an extremely intensive and challenging year. I strive to increase the operational and combat capabilities of the Polish army as fast and as effectively as possible. That is why time and availability are such important criteria in our modernization orders. Not in five or ten years, but now. It is my duty to provide security to Poland, and appropriate equipment to Polish soldiers. Therefore, the scale of orders for the army is so extensive – earlier unheard of, but today necessary and fully justified. Anyone who cares for the security and development of our country will admit that without a strong, large and well-equipped army, there is no strong Poland.
autor zdjęć: Jakub Szymczuk