Destinations Magazine

Poland’s Defence: A Front-line State

By Stizzard

POLAND spent $ 4.7 billion on 48 American-built F-16 fighters, but in the event of a conflict with Russia, the safest place for the warplanes would be on a German airfield, quips a defence analyst. Threadbare Soviet-era air defences would be unable to protect Poland against an attack.With neighbouring Ukraine in turmoil, Warsaw is more acutely aware of its vulnerability than at any moment since the end of the cold war. The defence ministry recently decided that it only wants systems that have been deployed by other NATO members in its tender to build a modern short and medium-range air defence system. This leaves just two bidders: America’s Raytheon with its updated Patriot system and France’s Eurosam, a consortium of Thales and MBDA.When Poland went for the F-16s over rival European bids more than a decade ago it also had to choose between America and a member of the European Union. Today Warsaw is making even bigger efforts to find the right balance between its strong security relationship with America and the closer economic and political ties it has forged with other EU countries.The definitive choice of system will probably be made this year instead of 2015, as had been planned. The government will dodge EU rules on open tenders (which is allowed for contracts affecting national security) to speed up the process. “There is clearly urgency,” says Andrew Michta at Rhodes…

The Economist: Europe

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