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Ukraine conflict: Russia's invasion raises short-term consequences for Poland's defence capabilities

Under its Wisla programme, Poland is acquiring Patriot missile systems. (Raytheon)

Russia's invasion of Ukraine has created a new geostrategic situation for Poland, which shares a border with Ukraine, Belarus, and Russia. The attack has deteriorated the regional security environment and will have direct consequences for the modernisation of the Polish Armed Forces (PAF).

The ambitious Technical Modernisation Plan (TMP) 2021–35, which was announced in 2019 and covers about 2,000 modernisation programmes, needs to be updated to reflect the new reality. The first lessons from the conflict in Ukraine show that air and missile defence, anti-tank, and rocket artillery capabilities are crucial. The TMP covers these requirements, but its implementation is far from satisfactory. So far, the PAF has procured two out of eight planned IBCS/Patriot mid-range air-and-missile defence batteries within the ‘Wisla' programme, and only one out of three HIMARS rocket artillery squadrons systems (with just 20 fire units) under the ‘Homar' programme.

The situation with modern short-range air defence (SHORAD) systems is even more dire. The ‘Narew' programme is already delayed by six years. Although the Ministry of National Defence (MND) has signed the framework contract with the Polska Grupa Zbrojeniowa (PGZ) consortium for 23 SHORAD batteries, the selection of the Common Anti-air Modular Missile (CAMM) interceptor for the programme is pending approval by the MND. Furthermore, the delivery of the first SHORAD battery is expected no sooner than 2025. In better news, the lowest level of air defence, VSHORAD, is covered by the locally built ‘Poprad' system, which has been delivered to the PAF, as well as ‘Grom' manportable air-defence systems that are in delivery.

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