Poland’s Future Air Defence System: An Update

By Defense.info Media Team

In a November 18, 2021 article published on the UK Ministry of Defence website, the new agreement between the UK and Poland on cooperation on Poland’s new air defence system was highlighted.

A first for the UK-Poland relationship, the Statement of Intent will see the two countries share pioneering technology to develop NAREW, Poland’s future Ground-Based Air Defence System, which is anticipated to have a multi-billion-pound budget.

The agreement will provide enhanced security and defence development for both countries, while developing and sustaining critical skills across the missile sector in Poland and the UK.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said:

“This agreement will deliver a step change in our defence co-operation with Poland and paves the way for our militaries to operate even more closely.”

Minister Błaszczak and I look forward to seeing the GBAD partnership develop.

“Britain and Poland have historically stood side by side against a range of threats and will continue to deepen our partnership.”

In the UK, MBDA’s Common Anti-air Modular Missile (CAMM) family has been confirmed for the NAREW programme. Flying at supersonic speeds, CAMM missiles can destroy modern air threats including stealth aircraft and high-speed missiles. Each CAMM family missile is equipped with an advanced active radar seeker that can see even the smallest, fastest and stealthiest targets through the worst weather and the heaviest electronic jamming.

Chris Allam, Managing Director MBDA UK:

“MBDA is delighted to be playing such a leading role in the UK-Poland Defence partnership. This agreement endorses the deep relationship we have formed with Poland’s Ministry of National Defence and Polish Industry and is underpinned by the nature of our unprecedented technology co-operation and transfer proposal for NAREW and Polish Air Defence.

“In choosing MBDA, and the CAMM family, Poland will receive the benefits of a true European missile partnership, the latest capabilities, and the ability to secure and develop highly skilled jobs in its defence industry. We thank Poland for the trust placed in us and we look forward to delivering this programme in co-operation with PGZ.”

The Statement of Intent was signed during the Defence Secretary’s visit to Poland where he reaffirmed the UK’s commitment to European defence and security and NATO Allies. The Defence Ministers visited personnel in Bemowo Piskie Camp, Orzysz, where the UK Armed Forces are serving alongside Polish and other NATO Allies as part of NATO’s Enhanced Forward Presence.

The Defence Secretary and Minister Błaszczak also discussed the current situation along Poland’s border with Belarus. The Defence Secretary affirmed UK support for Poland, and the UK’s firm condemnation the Lukashenko regime’s attempt to engineer a migration crisis to undermine Poland, Latvia and Lithuania. He confirmed the UK will continue to offer practical support through the deployment of UK military engineers to provide engineering technical and liaison assistance and wider engineering support to Polish military personnel deployed at the border.

Poland and the UK are both investing in improving capabilities and in modernising our Armed Forces, exceeding NATO’s Defence spending target of 2% of GDP. The bilateral relationship between the nations is strong, with forces operating side by side on land, at sea and in the air. Endeavours to work together to face shared challenges are underpinned by the Defence and Security Cooperation Treaty signed in 2017.

The photo is credited to MBDA.

Editor’s Note: The NAREW program is a flagship program for Poland and one which is being worked as a magnet effort to integrate core capabilities through the IBCS system.

According to a Defence 24 article published on May 5, 2021:

“What the Narew System Really Is?

“First, one should recall the basic assumptions that have been adopted for the Narew programme. Narew is to play a relevant role in the Polish air defence system. The initial assumption was to acquire 19 SHORAD batteries (38 fire units). The aforesaid assets were to be received by the 3rd “Warszawska” Air Defence Missile Brigade, and by the Air Defence regiments of the Army (that would be the primary user of Narew), and, probably, by the coastal Navy units. The above translates into more than 100 launchers, and, depending on configuration, even as many as 2 thousand missiles. This means that the scope of the programme is broad, with the acquisition costs estimated at the level of PLN 30-40 bn (approx USD 8.5 to more than 10 billion), assuming that a full-scale procurement of the system is conducted.

“Narew system is the system that would be responsible for acting against most of the air-breathing targets – fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft, or cruise missiles. The Narew units would protect both the airbases (additionally protected by the IBCS/Patriot systems), as well as Army assets, closely working with VSHORAD systems (such as Poprad) operated by the Army elements. Narew missiles would most probably have a range of around 40 kilometers. The initial assumption for this performance figure was at the level of 25 kilometers. However, the technological developments mean that effectors of greater capability would be ultimately implemented.”

And in a Defence 24 article published on November 19, 2021, the decision was highlighted and assessed.

Head of the Polish MoD, Mariusz Błaszczak announced that the Armament Inspectorate of the Polish MoD has presented its missile recommendations for the Polish Narew SHORAD system programme. UK-made CAMM missiles would probably be the winning bid. Błaszczak also mentioned accelerated completion of the Miecznik programme, where the British industry has also placed its proposal.

Błaszczak announced with regards to the recommendations made by the Armament Inspectorate in Bemowo Piskie base, that he visited jointly with Ben Wallace, UK Secretary of Defence. The base hosts the British troops, within the framework of the NATO battalion battle group. As stated by the head of the Polish Ministry of Defence, the Armament Inspectorate has concluded that the MBDA CAMM bid is the most prospective one, with those missiles being offered by the British. During the visit, a letter of intent has been signed referring to the related collaboration.

“I am happy with the declaration signed, as it paves the way towards implementation of the Narew programme, air defence programme that would make use of the CAMM missiles. The Armament Inspectorate recommended that the bid submitted by the UK shall be scrutinized first. I hope that further negotiation concerning the conclusion of licensing and performance agreements would proceed fast. I am very happy that the declaration mentions an unprecedented transfer of technologies, which would make it possible for the Polish industry to manufacture, and develop this missile, and to sell the weapon in the future. Of course, all of the above would be done through a joint arrangement with the UK. I do hope that when it comes to shipbuilding, frigates, we would also follow this path at a rapid pace. We are open to discussion. The UK has placed its bid in that domain. The offer is being analyzed, and we will be working to finalize this matter as fast as possible”, Błaszczak said.

The Polish official thanked the UK Secretary of Defence for his personal involvement in the reinforcement of the relationship tied to the security of both nations.

The memorandum also has a geopolitical impact.

Ben Wallace said that Poland and the UK will always go hand in hand working together.

He added that both nations will not allow for a situation to emerge, in which the crisis on the Belorussian border escalates. Wallace, during the press meeting in Bemowo Piskie, said that the close cooperation between the UK and Poland, that is materializing, may turn into a “one night stand”, or into a long-term marriage.

He said that given the shared experience, both nations have, the relations between the two states shall rather be viewed as a long-term marriage.

Referring to the situation on the border, Wallace suggested that it shall be viewed as a conscious attempt to destabilize Poland, Latvia, and Lithuania, or even the whole of Europe, to make the nations across the continent weaker. He said that it would be the best way to respond through hand-in-hand cooperation, within the framework of NATO and international friendship and partnership.

He emphasized the intention not to allow for any further escalation. Wallace appealed to Lukashenko to stop the attempt to use people as a weapon.

Wallace said that the offer related to Polish-UK defence industry cooperation remains very much relevant for the UK. He said that the UK is not willing to be perceived as a partner that would only sell the product. Wallace said that it is London’s intention for Poland to acquire new capabilities and technologies, with new jobs entailed, and with further enhancement of the Polish defence industry – the industry that should be able to provide security to Poland, and all of its allies. He reiterated that Poland and the UK would go hand-in-hand, establishing the aforesaid cooperation.

The Narew system is to become a part of the inventory of the 3rd “Warszawska” Air Defence Missile Brigade (complementing its Wisła assets), but it is also to be delivered to 4 air defence regiments of the Land Forces (including the newly formed element of the 18th Mechanized Division). It is also possible that Narew assets would also be received by some of the coastal elements of the Navy. The Land Forces would be the primary user nonetheless. Narew is going to replace the Kub, and (partially) Osa systems in the Army. In the Air Force SAM elements Narew system would replace the legacy Neva-SC SAM.

According to the contractual assumptions, the contracting of all of the Narew elements would be coordinated, and it shall be finalized by 2023. This means that the first live test launch could take place, involving a fully integrated system, in 2026.

The Narew system will likely cooperate with the Wisła system through the IBCS C2 system already purchased in the Wisła program along with Patriot missiles, and CAMM missiles have already undergone an initial integration with IBCS.