Lockheed Martin [LMT] has discussed with Poland the possibility of procuring the Medium Extended Air Defense System (MEADS) to fulfill that nation’s priority to modernize its air and missile defense capability, a company official said.

MEADS German Launcher
Photo: Lockheed Martin

The company took part in Poland’s “technical dialogue,” a process to evaluate all potential providers of air and missile defense capabilities,” Marty Coyne, Lockheed Martin Air and Missile Defense Business Development director, told Defense Daily. Lockheed Martin with MBDA comprise MEADS International, which is developing MEADS for the United States, Germany and Italy.

Potentially, there could be a contract award next year, Coyne said.   

On March 7, at a missile defense conference, Polish Deputy Minister of Defense Robert Kupiecki said: “Within the next decade we plan to spend overall approximately $10 billion for the modernization of air defense where half of this sum is dedicated to lower tier missile defense.”  

The funds will come from the Polish defense budget, which is based on a fixed 1.95 percent share of the overall state budget, Kupiecki said. “This will consume 20 percent of the modernization budget planned for the next 10 years,” he added.

The next month, in April, Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski signed an amendment to the law restructuring and modernizing Polish armed forces that funds the air defense program.

Then, in early June, the Polish Ministry of National Defense said it began a medium-range air defense procurement program. This system, to be known as Wisla, would be part of a layered air defense system called “Shield of Poland,” and would replace current capabilities.

Poland expects to operate its first Wisla system in 2017, planning a total of eight batteries by 2022.

Wisla also would be integrated within NATO’s air and missile defense system.

In late July, Defense Minister Tomasz Siemoniak met with Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and said of plans to build a national missile defense system in Poland that:  “Our activity cannot be removed from NATO context.”

The Shield of Poland plans would encompass all layers of air defense, from short-range air defense to medium-range air and missile defense (AMD) elements.

By acquiring new air and missile defense capabilities and making them part of the NATO Ballistic Missile Defense, Poland would not only add to its national and regional security but contribute to the defense of its allies, Kupiecki said.

He pointed out that Polish air defense assets are mostly from the Soviet Union era, and “should be considered obsolete,” and that “currently we do not have any anti-missile defense capability.”

The goal is to have operational capability and industrial partnerships in system development to include technology transfer, he said. Polish industry cooperation with foreign partners is central to its strategic approach.

The goal of modernizing the armed force is also to bring the Polish army and other services to NATO standards, with modern weapons.

While the United States has decided not to go into procurement of MEADS as originally envisioned, it has met its commitments for the design and development program and fully funded the program. The United States is not leaving the Memorandum of Understanding with Germany and Italy, and would support Lockheed Martin in a Polish effort.

“Poland would leverage $4 billion of combined development funding over the program,” Coyne said.

There’s a strong industrial team in place working on the MEADS program, and if Poland decided to acquire MEADS, it would become part of that team, which would save it time and money, Coyne said. It would allow Poland access to modern technology, such as the active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar, digital systems, 360 degree defense and network capability.

For the United States, such an industrial partnership would add to NATO ballistic missile defense capability and build partner capacity.