The fact that the Navy is the most neglected branch of the armed forces in Poland is neither a sensation nor a secret. In recent years, the situation has improved slightly, as ten surface ships have been commissioned, and the Arms Agency is consistently ordering new ones. These include three Miecznik missile frigates, three more Kormoran II minehunters and two Delfin reconnaissance ships. For years, however, submarines have been a thorn in the side.
A breakthrough could come from Deputy Prime Minister and Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak, who publicly announced on May 24 that a tender procedure for the purchase of units of this class, codenamed Orka, would be launched at the end of this year.
As the head of the Ministry of Defense put it, “as early as this year we plan to launch a procedure aimed at purchasing submarines with the transfer of the necessary technologies that we want to receive under a credit order.”
Of course, one may wonder if the above statement is not a smoke screen that diverts attention from the case of the Ch-55 missile that fell near the town of Zamosc in Kuyavia. In addition, it should be remembered that parliamentary elections are scheduled for this year, which may disrupt the political system in the country. In the case of such a strategic issue as the purchase of submarines, one can hope that there will be a political agreement beyond disagreement. It should be remembered that the launch of the procedure this year does not mean that the supplier will become known in the coming months – a possible order for three new generation conventional ships, along with the necessary training and logistics package and weapons, is a big political and economic project. The number of potential suppliers is small, and some (planned) weapons are even fewer.
As one of the vice-presidents of a Polish defense company said several years ago, this type of procurement has a pronounced political background. The potential value of the contract could fluctuate around 4 billion euros, and the delivery period could be extended until at least the middle of the next decade.
Although the details are currently under wraps, some light on the potential configuration of the new type of submarine was shed in his presentation by Mariusz Blaszczak.
– We want our submarines to be distinguished by long-term missions and high carrying capacity in terms of portable weapons and layout flexibility (…) A full-fledged Navy should include not only surface ships, but also those that can covertly move underwater, capable of long time to wait for the right moment to strike at the right time, whether it be a surface target or a ground target, the minister noted.
A statement of this kind may mean that the Ministry of Defense still retains two key requirements – the use of a modern AIP air-independent propulsion system, as well as the adaptation of a platform for the transport and use of cruise missiles.
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