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...
A similar sense of pressure for rapid results is guiding Poland’s multi-year 140 billion zloty ($46 billion) military modernisation programme, one of the largest investments in new military kit by any European NATO member. The original plan called for a tender on supplying about 30 attack helicopters to begin only in 2018. But replacing Poland’s ageing Soviet-era Mi-24 “Hind” helicopters has now been pushed forward to 2016; possible suppliers have until August 1st to announce their interest...
Poland wants to make its forces significantly more lethal in case of an attack. The government is pushing hard for America to sell it upgraded stealthy JASSM cruise missiles, which have a range of almost 1,000km (625 miles). The missiles, which can be launched from F-16s, would give Poland the ability to counter attack by striking deep into Russia.
The need for such a system may have seemed in doubt when Poland first announced its military modernisation programme, to be completed in 2022. But Russia’s annexation of Crimea, its support for the insurgency in eastern Ukraine and its aggressive Russian-Belarusian war-games in recent years, not far from Poland’s eastern border, have made policymakers much more aware that the country faces a real security risk.
Related link: A front-line state ~ The Economist