On September 9, Avascent Consultant Dominik Kimla was interviewed by Polish news agency Defence 24 concerning Poland’s Ministry of Defense Technical Modernization Program (TMP) 2013-2022. The video (in Polish) can be viewed here, and a translation of the interview is below.
Q: To what extend new government may implement changes in the Technical Modernization Program?
The Technical Modernization Program (TMP) 2013-2022 is a very ambitious program, I would even say that it is too ambitious, which causes some difficulties in its implementation. At the moment, most of the modernization projects are delayed. However, the new government will have to continue their implementation. Nevertheless, it may revise the projects within the TMP due to financial shortages and implement some changes, probably together with inauguration of the TMP for the period 2017-2026. According to our estimates, the MoD will be able to allocate on defence procurement about 90-95 billion PLN by 2023. If we compare our estimates with MoD’s announcement, about 130 or even 140 billion PLN allocated on defence procurement, then we end up with a 30-40 billion PLN gap in terms of potential defence investments. We can separately discuss reasons for such a huge gap in forecasting defence spending, but it is clear that the next government will have to solve this issue. Consequently, a revision of the TMP seems to be inevitable.
Q: There are some rumors about potential changes to the Wisła program which can be introduced by new government, what is your opinion about this?
It is too early to discuss any potential modification to the program, let’s wait for the results of the election, the new government, and the new Minister of Defence. Broadly speaking, we cannot exclude some changes or correction to the Wisła program. I would say that although Poland strives to implement the program with the United States, but we cannot rule out some changes in composition of the industrial consortium. Nevertheless, modernization of the air and missile defense remains one of the crucial priorities for the Polish Armed Forces. Regardless of any potential adjustments, introduced by the new government, the air defense program will continue to have the largest financial allocation within TMP in coming decade.
Q: What is your opinion on establishing a new defence procurement agency to speed up process of the modernization of the army?
The concept of a dedicated defence procurement agency is nothing new; it has been discussed over the last ten years at least. It is regrettable that the agency has not been introduced yet. Having said that, it is too early to determine whether the new government will decide to implement this concept, but a current institutional approach is not sufficient to deal with such a complex and demanding modernization program. The institutional changes can be implemented either through the formation of a completely new organization, or increasing capabilities and strengthening of (including number of personnel) the existing Armament Inspectorate.
Undoubtedly, the current ambitious program of technical modernization requires very extensive work related to the negotiation process, conclusion of contracts, and offsets, etc. This leads to the need to have adequate institutional capacity to implement such an ambitious program. However, it is worth mentioning that the creation of a new agency would cause further delays in implementation of the existing TMP. An open question is whether establishment of a new agency and potential additional delays in TMP implementation, due to administration changes, can be compensated in the long term perspective. Definitely, the decision in this regard will be one of the first to be taken by the next Minister of National Defence.