Poland To Get ‘Next-generation’ Patriot System

 - December 6, 2017, 8:16 AM
A 360-degree non-rotating AESA radar incorporating Gallium Nitride (GaN) technology will be a key feature of Poland’s Patriot system. (Raytheon)

The last half of November has seen the culmination of efforts by Raytheon to add two new customers for its family of Patriot Air and Missile Defence (AMD) users. But whereas Poland is only now moving to conclude a firm contract, after years of evaluation and indecision, Romania spent just a little more than one year to decide on its new air defense system.

According to a new notice to the U.S. Congress by the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA), the sale to Poland will include four AN/MPQ-65 radar sets, four engagement control stations, 16 launching stations and 208 Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) missiles.

The Polish deal has a "ceiling" price of $10.5 billion, but both U.S. and Raytheon officials have explained that this figure accounts for the possibility of follow-on buys and other options that could be exercised in "phase two" of the program. The overall cost of "phase one" is expected to be approximately $7.6 billion (U.S.).

Poland selected the Patriot system in 2015 after a lengthy evaluation of alternatives such as the Israeli Rafael David’s Sling; the MBDA-Thales Eurosam/SAMP-T; and the Medium Extended Air Defence System (MEADS) from a consortium led by Lockheed Martin.

Raytheon representatives note that Poland will become an industrial partner for the next-generation of the Patriot system. Speaking at the recent Dubai Air Show, Joseph P. Antona, v-p for business development and strategy at the company’s Integrated AMD division, explained that the planned new 360-degree non-rotating AESA radar incorporating Gallium Nitride (GaN) technology “will revolutionize what warfighters can expect from their sensors.” He added that Raytheon is the only company “with a U.S. Government-grade foundry for military AESA GaN technology, that we have started to insert into our products already.”

Another aspect of the Polish system is that it will be integrated with the Northrop Grumman Battle Command System (IBCS). The sale to Poland includes the IBCS software, six “current operations” IBCS engagement operations centers and two “future operations” EOCs, according to the DSCA announcement.

Poland will also be adding a new weapon to the Patriot missile mix. SkyCeptor, a NATO-compliant version of the RTN/Rafael Stunner missile, will be assembled in Poland and will be a third option for the Polish Patriots to slot in between the Raytheon-made MIM-104E Guidance Enhanced Missile-TBM (GEM-T) and Lockheed Martin Missile Segment Enhancement (MSE) missile models. Raytheon is also reportedly looking at incorporating a fourth missile that would mirror the MSE’s hit-to-kill capability.

The U.S. has been in favor of the Patriot sale to Poland due to the synergies created between “the U.S. and other NATO allies that also possess the Patriot system,” read an official U.S. statement on November 17. Within NATO, Germany, Greece, the Netherlands, and Spain also operate the Patriot system.

The same interoperability issues were a major factor in Romania's deciding to procure seven Patriot fire units, 56 GEM-T missiles and 168 MSE interceptors. The NATO member signed for this acquisition on November 29 after a selection process that RTN representatives described as a “land-speed record.”

The Poland and Romania decisions, plus a recent announcement by Sweden that it will buy the Patriot system, have led to speculation regarding the previous German decision to acquire MEADS to meet its Taktisches Luftverteidigungssystem (TLVS) future ground-based air defense requirement. Germany appears to be the only potential remaining MEADS customer.