On Thursday, Poland’s Defence Minister Mariusz Blaszczak signed a new fifteen-year Military Technical Modernisation Plan.
Over the years 2021-2035 Poland plans to spend over PLN 500 bn (EUR 116 bn) on modernisation of its armed forces.
Among the most important programmes, which - according to the minister - will change the Polish army - is the "Harpy" programme involving the purchase of fifth generation F-35 fighter jets. Poland wants to buy 32 such machines. These aircraft are virtually undetectable to enemy radars. In the US Army, they are mainly used for reconnaissance of enemy territory. The US Congress has agreed to sell F-35s to Poland.
The Defence Minister added that to increase the combat capability of the new fighters, further investments and purchases of new weapons will be needed. That is why the new Technical Modernisation Plan also includes the programme called "Harpy Claw". Minister Mariusz Błaszczak explained that, among other investments, it includes the construction of an unmanned aerial vehicle, which supports pilots of conventional machines. Such a drone is used in training, and if necessary it can be sent to penetrate a hostile area without endangering the lives of pilots. Boeing is currently working on such a programme named the Dron Loyal Wingman.
The head of the Ministry of National Defence also announced the purchase of new F-16 fighter jets and the continuation of the "Wisła" programme for air and missile defense. An element of this system will also be the acquisition of a dozen short-range launchers.
The Polish Navy will also receive modern equipment. The new modernisation plan includes the purchase of coastal defense ships, submarines and six light missile ships.
According to the Ministry of National Defence, funds for the purchase of modern weapons will be secured thanks to the act signed in the autumn of 2017, which assumes an increase in defence spending. The current 2 percent of GDP ratio is expected to grow in subsequent years to reach 2.5 percent of GDP in 2030. The head of the armed forces, President Andrzej Duda, has repeatedly suggested that if the country is in a good financial condition, then reaching the 2.5 percent of GDP threshold in spending on defence should occur much earlier, even in 2024.
In the current budget year in Poland, defence spending is estimated at over PLN 40 bn (EUR 9.3 bn).