Polish arms industry in the new geopolitical situation

12 maja 2014, 15:14

I haven’t been writing for just a month and yet in the meantime the world has changed. New borders were established and with them new threats emerged, as well as a new adversary instead of a partner. Our politicians collectively began to sit for a photo next to tanks and jets and other military equipment of all kinds. Besides the calls for increasing the presence of allied forces, there are heard appeals for strengthening of our army and equipping it with modern weaponry.

Before the public opinion gives consent (which in reality was already given) for substantially increased purchases of armaments, it should first become acquainted with the state of the reform and the changes in the arsenal of the Polish Armed Forces after a year since the announcement of general modernization. As is whispered by the ants circling thecorridors of Ministry of National Defence – the new Secretary of State responsible for the modernisation has prepared a report that sums up the achievements of Ministry of National Defence in the area of armament’s modernizatiopn as of December 2013. It would be beneficial to all of us  if this document will be made public knowledge, so that we all knew where we stand on that front and from what point we start in this new geopolitical situation.

What we read in the newspapers, fills us with a positive energy. Most of the information from there sounds wonderful. One after the other politicians promise support for the industry. But when it’s time for the words to become action, the spell is broken. All pinned their hopes on the meeting in Siemianowice, where the discussion on the development of our armaments industry at the moment of modernization was supposed to happen. Unfortunately, what was heard was a statement of minister Siemoniak, that our army will purchase arms in Poland, if it would be of the same quality as those manufactured abroad. It is a long-known fact that our military would prefer to come into possession of the new equipment, whereas the interest of the industry aren’t their business. Will there be – after the first volley from i.e. enemy Iskanders or SU – anything to load into ournewly-bought launchers? That’s a minor issue, as well as the matter of servicing and modernizing the equipment, which concerns hardly anyone. And the newest events prove that SU and their other” toys” are constantly modernized.

Recently, during the Days of Industry, minister Czesław Mroczyk promised that the Ministry of National Defence will use all legal remdies to Polonize the purchases as much as possible. However, no hard facts were given. What is more, the Ministry and the Department of Armaments Policy threw the accusations of the lack of innovativeness of the Polish arms industry. It was also stated that the costs of the newest technologies, that aren’t in the possession of our industry, make up 70% of the costs of planned purchases. The question is whether the armamament industry, having such unreliable  client as  as the Ministry of National Defence, can be innovative.

Of course it can, but only on the condition of state-aided funding of the research and development works. An export might be the another source of funding. Unfortunately, it so happens, that the foreign contractors choose the equipment used by the producer’s own army. Recently the Ministry of National Defence “helped a lot” in the promotion of Głuszec. Somebody’s ambitions required that instead of the 12,7 mm gun there will be a little cannon. As a result we most probably lost a few good orders, because our army won’t be contracting Głuszec anymore.

And what about on armament export is worth to think?–. It is widely known that at present Polish armaments export is quite haggard. Some media and politicians believe that with the establishing and strengthening of Pegaz the problem will be solved on its own. Cenzin is supposed to play the part of the bureau of foreign trade in the structure of Pegaz, and then, as a team of experienced tradesmen, will take over entirety of the foreign trade. Problem solved. It sounds promising, but will it work on our ground?

Unfortunately, I do not know – and so does no one. Basically, there are two models of export. The first one involves the producer conducting the negotiations and sales on his own and the holding provides help, guarantees and references only for the bigger contracts – and in these cases the holding usually is the exporter. The other model involves the holding conducting the trade by the way of its own marketing network and the part of the producer is limited to providing service, spare parts and such. It’s hard to tell which model is better. The time will tell.

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