MoD announces record EUR 42.6 bln until 2026 for army modernisation

2019-09-04 12:59 update: 2019-09-07, 13:24
Defence Minister Mariusz Blaszczak Photo PAP/Rafał Guz
Defence Minister Mariusz Blaszczak Photo PAP/Rafał Guz
Polish Defence Minister Mariusz Blaszczak told public radio on Wednesday that plans to modernise the army involve record sums of PLN 158 billion (EUR 42.6 billion) until 2026, noting that negotiations are ongoing with the US over the purchase of F-35 jets.

The minister defended Poland's relations with the USA, which were described on the same radio station by opposition Civic Platform (PO) leader Grzegorz Schetyna as "transactional" with the US only saying relations are great because Poland is paying without haggling. 

"We're buying the best equipment," Blaszczak said. "There is no comparable equipment, when we look for example at F-35 planes. There are no similar aircraft in the world. Equipping the Polish Air Force with those planes means that the Polish Air Force will have an advantage over others." He added that the prices were negotiated by Poland and that the agreement of the US administration is already in place. 

He said the F-35 would deter a potential aggressor as they would know that Poland has equipment that is very threatening to them, which works together with HIMARS (High Mobility Artillery Rocket System) missiles and also work together with Poland's existing F-16s, which work together with the Patriot system, so any aggressor that attacks will "receive a very painful response."

He also said the Polish defence sector would be involved in the F-35 investment. "I'm engaging the Polish defence industry in those fields in which they have competences, for example radars," he said, pointing to radar contracts signed on Tuesday along with agreements on night vision equipment for the newly formed 18th Mechanised Division.

Blaszcak also said that while Ministry of Defence orders for Polish industry reached PLN 3.5-3.7 billion (EUR 806-853 million) in 2018 and earlier, this year the figure would be PLN 5 billion (EUR 1.15 billion). He pointed out that Poland spends the NATO requirement of 2 percent of GDP on defence and that GDP is rising, so the ministry's budget is "stable."

"I have undertaken a technical modernisation plan (of the Polish Armed Forces - PAP) until 2026 and am now working on a 15-year outlook, which is in line with NATO rules, and in the autumn that plan will be created," he said, noting that the modernisation plan up to 2026 involved a "record" outlay on equipment of PLN 185 billion (EUR 42.6 billion), or PLN 45 billion (EUR 10.37 billion) more than the plan construed by the previous government. (PAP)

ej/ mr/