Defence24, Jakub Palowski, 1 April 2017
Polish Minister of Defence, Antoni Macierewicz, announced that a reviewed request for information has been issued, concerning the procurement of the Patriot missile defence system, within the framework of the Wisła programme. Deputy Minister Kownacki noted that Poland is going to obtain a special “yockey waiver” authorization, making it possible to implement a modular IBCS air defence management system in an accelerated manner, in parallel with the US Army.
Macierewicz emphasized the fact that all of the Patriot batteries belonging to the Wisła system, from the very beginning, will be delivered together with the net-centric IBCS suite. “This matter has already been settled”. At the same time, Polish Ministry of Defence assured that Wisła system contract is expected to be signed by the end of this year, with the first deliveries scheduled to take place in 2019.
Head of the Polish MoD noted that in line with the assumptions of the Letter of Request, Poland is to spend no more than 30 billion zlotys on the Wisła system. 360 degrees radar is to be delivered starting from the third battery, while eight Wisła batteries are being ordered in total. Within the process of delivering the subsequent batteries, the initial ones that will not have the 360 degrees radar embedded will be retrofitted with it; all of the systems are to be integrated with the IBCS suite from the very beginning.
According to Minister Macierewicz, implementation and proper introduction of the offset assumptions will be of critical importance. Macierewicz noted that in the current security context, procuring the Wisła system is “particularly relevant” for Poland, and the Polish Ministry of Defence is inclined to pursue a path through which the “latest” variant of the system is acquired.
Secretary of State at the Polish Ministry of Defence, Bartosz Kownacki, stressed the fact that Poland resigns from obtaining the GEM-T missiles, guided with the use of the Track-Via-Missile method, and it is going to acquire the SkyCeptor effectors (expected to be manufactured in Poland) instead. Kownacki also placed a lot of emphasis the fact that the IBCS system will be introduced into the Polish Armed Forces in parallel with an equivalent process taking place in the US Army.
Moreover, Deputy Minister noted that Poland has obtained so called “yockey waiver”, an authorization to acquire the IBCS suite before a full scale series production begins, within the framework of the inter-governmental agreement concluded with Washington. It is an important point of the deal, since IBCS suite has not yet entered even the LRIP phase. Within the FMS process a formal notification and Congress authorization are yet to be issued, nonetheless the “yockey waiver” itself is a major step forward. The provision is also a proof of the US trust.
The “Milestone C” decision, determining the completion of the EMD stage for the IBCS system and transition to production, is expected to be taken by the end off this year. Full scale manufacturing is not going to begin before the finalization of the LRIP, which happens directly after the “Milestone C” step. The FMS procedure – should a standard set of steps be adopted – assumes that the military equipment would be delivered from the US only after the full scale production begins. However, as it was noted by Kownacki, Poland will be given a chance to implement the IBCS in parallel with the US Army.
The introduction of the system is delayed due to software problems, as the initial plan assumed “Milestone C” to bee achieved back in 2016, nonetheless Northrop Grumman declares that a “major progress” has been made. This suite is going to act as a foundation for the prospective integrated air defence system utilized by the US Army. The aforesaid circumstances make it possible to fully integrate the operations undertaken by SHORAD and medium range systems. In practical terms, the above means that the radar that is assigned to a short range system may provide targeting data for the Patriot battery, even in circumstances in which Patriot’s fire control radar did not lock onto the said threat. This is important especially in case when one utilizes a sector radar system, which is going to happen in case of the Patriots initially received by Poland.
The system is going to replace the current Patriot system’s command and control suite elements, thus acquiring the Patriot missile defence solution without the IBCS solution would mean that there is a need to replace some elements of the command and control system’s architecture after a few years. The IBCS system itself is a priority for the US Army, since the new IFPC Inc-2 I short range systems, planned to be introduced as of 2020, are going to be integrated with the IBCS suite, meanwhile the existing Patriot battalions will obtain entirely new operational capabilities within a structure of a more autonomous and dispersed nature, which has been confirmed by the GAO report issued last year.
New, 360 degree, US Army air defence radars will be integrated with the IBCS system too, and here we are referring to the radars that are yet to be selected, within the scope of the LTAMDS programme. The architecture of that system allows the user to introduce a variety of elements into it. Thus, the Americans have initiated the current stage of modernization of their Patriot systems, beginning with the command suite, so that they would be able to expand it further with more, extra elements in the future. According to the declarations made by the Polish Ministry of Defence, Poland is willing to follow a very similar path.