Avascent Principal and Director of European Operations Christina Balis continues her examination of Poland’s 2013-2022 Technical Modernization Program (TMP) in Poland’s Balancing Act: A Briefing for the Defense Sector – Part 2 in Defense Industry Daily. As Russia’s incursion into Ukraine has prompted an acceleration of Poland’s modernization time table, three competitions will likely be settled in the next 18 months: medium-range air and missile defense, medium-lift utility helicopters, and attack helicopters. These three near-term competitions will pit European and American firms against each other on three counts: time to delivery, equipment capabilities—taking price into account, and inclusion of Polish defense industry elements. That last point is key: to win, a bid must aid the ongoing “Polonization” i.e. the evolution of Poland’s indigenous defense industrial capabilities.
We believe that the most likely outcome of the 3 upcoming competitions will be a 2:1 split in favor of one side, rather than a sweep. One plausible scenario would see Poland buy a mix of U.S. and European helicopters, and a U.S. air and missile defense system.”The Wisla (or Vistula) air and missile defense procurement competition will play out second, but will award the largest sum – approximately $5 billion – to the winner. The first selection, worth about $3 billion, and scheduled to be announced by end of year, “involves the procurement of 70 helicopters in 4 variants (48 multi-role transport, 10 Search And Rescue, 6 maritime rescue, 6 anti-submarine) to be deployed throughout the Polish military.” The $1.5 billion “Kruk” (Raven) attack helicopter program, originally scheduled to launch in 2018 and deliver in 2020, is now expected to be awarded in 2015, after the Wisla decision is announced, making it the third decision.
The outcome of these acquisitions will send strong geopolitical messages to Poland’s allies. “The decisions will also determine the degree of the country’s integration into, and acceptance by, the rest of Europe’s defense industry.” Other, later competitions scheduled beyond 2015 within the TMP, will continue to solicit rival European and American defense contractor bids, potentially allowing Poland to carefully spread the wealth, and reap the subsequent, diverse goodwill. Thus Poland could chart a course forward that assures it both the transatlantic and homefront relationships it needs to bolster its National Security.