This article originally appeared at Voice of Sevastopl
Despite its stated desire to ramp up its own defense production, Warsaw now aims to award multibillion-zloty contracts to Airbus and Raytheon for helicopters and Patriot missiles, respectively, Defense News reported.
The plan involves the Visegrad Group of countries — Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary — along with the Baltic states of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, in addition to Romania and Bulgaria.
“Poland aims to play the role of a regional leader, and rally other [Eastern European allies] behind the objective of intensifying regional cooperation in the field of defense and security,” said Professor Marek Jablonowski, a political scientist from the University of Warsaw.
Another objective would be to increase the foothold of Polish defense firms in other Eastern European markets, Defense News added.
“To date, we have been looking for potential export deals in distant countries, while we have neglected neighboring markets. Financial support by the government will make it easier for Polish companies [to export weapons], but they surely shouldn’t ignore local competitors,” said Slawomir Kulakowski, the head of the Polish Chamber of National Defense Manufacturers (PIPROK).
While it is unclear which types of weapons and military equipment Polish defense firms could procure for interested governments, some of the most recent examples of such deals could indicate the areas of interest, Defense News wrote.
In September, Lithuania’s Defense Ministry signed a deal with Polish arms maker Mesko to acquire GROM short-range portable air defense systems.
The contract was signed at the MSPO defense industry show in Kielce.
Defense analysts earlier said that Poland’s decision to buy US-made Patriot missiles was a reminder to Russia that, in keeping with Article 5 of the NATO Charter, an armed aggression against one or several NATO member-states shall be regarded as an attack on the North Atlantic Alliance as a whole.
Ukraine and the Western countries accuse Russia of meddling in Ukraine’s internal affairs. Moscow dismisses the allegations arguing that it has nothing to do with the events in eastern Ukraine, is not supplying weapons to the pro-independence militia there, is not a party in the “internal Ukrainian conflict” and seeks an early end to the country’s ongoing political and economic turmoil.