What Others are Saying

Poland need not be defended by Patriots

Interview with Business Development Director Marty Coyne in Rzeczpospolita, 6 August 2015


Rz: Did the US decide to use the Patriot missile defense system from Raytheon, or the one developed by Lockheed Martin MEADS?

Marty Coyne: Washington’s initial plans were to replace the Patriot system with MEADS. However, budget constraints changed this. Several years ago the general consensus was reached that there were not enough financial resources to maintain large sets of Patriots, and develop MEADS at the same time. Nevertheless, the US government clearly stated that they would return to this issue in the future. In this context, Germany’s recent decision to use MEADS as their missile defense system is crucial. Germany, like the United States and Italy, were founder countries of our consortium, and funded partly the cost of developing this new technology. After Berlin’s decision we have a clear perspective to start producing antimissile batteries, as well as to provide our system to other countries, hopefully, including Poland.

How’s that, has not the Polish government already decided to purchase the Raytheon Patriot system?

We understand Poland has decided to only buy two batteries of Patriots in the current configuration. The decision on the remaining six is still to be made. The Polish Ministry of Defense (MON) has only said they will conduct negotiations with the American government on the next-generation system. But this absolutely does not exclude choosing our system, or its individual components, since our leading shareholder is Lockheed Martin, an American company. Our offer is ideally suited to Polish expectations.

What are these expectations? The greatest threat to Polish security is Russia.

The MEADS system has been jointly developed by the US, Germany, and Italy. An extremely efficient technology was developed which addresses the threats faced by Poland. No other system, including current Patriots, has a radar which allows threats to be recognized in a 360-degree radius. This makes our missile batteries able to neutralize all missile attacks coming from different angles, including high-altitude ballistic missiles, as well as low-flying cruise missiles. MEADS obviously can also stop Russian Iskanders. The system is successful not only due to its surveillance capabilities, but also the most-advanced hit-to-kill missile technology.

Is the Patriot system capable of defending Polish borders against Russia?

That system, like MEADS, uses PAC-3 missiles. But our biggest difference is the radar, and its ability to identify threats coming from all directions. This makes our system effectively drive away a potential aggressor from an attack. An aggressor knows his assault may be ineffective, and runs the risk of response. This is why Poland needs such a system right now, and not in ten years, which is when the new version of Patriot Next Generation will be ready.

Why has Raytheon built a system which is not effective against Iskander missiles?

Let me put it differently. The Patriot system in its current version is very effective today. But it was developed 40 years ago to counter different types of threats. It remains the foundation of US defense, but each battery provides protection only to a section of the battlefield, because such are the parameters of its radar. Meanwhile, no country, including the US, has the resources to quadruple the number of batteries, and therefore costs, to provide protection against a missile attack. This is why Raytheon wants to build a new generation of the Patriot system.

The development of this new technology is to be financed by Poland?

One thing is certain: the Patriot system needs modernization, and someone has to pay. Germany, like Turkey, said they will not finance it. Moreover, the US government has already decided to move from a solution based solely on the Patriot system to a program which includes various systems. It was also decided to build a battlefield management system (“the battle manager”) which is network-centric, and will be developed not by Raytheon, but by the Northrop Grumman company. The US wants also to rely more on 360-degree coverage radars and missile launchers working with them. Lockheed Martin has a great chance to win these tenders. When it comes to costs, developing a new generation of Patriots will require a lot of time and money. Whereas MEADS, which is a state-of-the-art system, is already funded by Germany, US, and Italy. It took us ten years, and cost $4 billion. We have 10–15 percent work left, and Germany will finish it. If Poland would reconsider our offer, you could benefit from all this. Besides, it is highly doubtful the Patriot Next Generation system will be ready before 2024, and if Poland will not need to pay for at least a part, if not all, of the cost of its development.

Poland has not had the best experience with offset after the purchase of F-16 fighters. How do we know this will not happen again?

MEADS is a consortium of companies from three countries: Germany, the US, and Italy, in which each state shares costs, and has access to all the technologies. This is why Germany, spending $1 billion to develop new technology, i.e. 25 percent of the total cost, has access to 100 percent of technological solutions. In our Polish offer for the Wisła program, we have used for the same mechanism, in which Poland would have the same share of 33 percent in the new consortium as Lockheed Martin and MBDA.

Maybe this is why the US government supported Raytheon, and its old-generation Patriots more? The US does not like to share their technology with others.

Absolutely not. When MEADS presented its offer to the Polish government in 2014, the US government supported equally both Raytheon, as well as Lockheed Martin. For example, the US agreed for PAC-3 missiles to be produced in Poland, but only within the MEADS offer. This was the only exception worldwide, excluding the Japan agreement. However, on 30th June 2014, MON changed the criteria of the tender in such a way, that the only acceptable equipment was that fielded by NATO countries. That eliminated us automatically. But after the German government’s decision to go with the MEADS system, we meet the condition of the Polish authorities, because MEADS will be used by a NATO country.

Why did MON present such a condition?

Due to the threat from the East, Poland could not wait, and wanted to rely on a “bridge” system, which was already in use. However these two Patriot batteries will be active in three–four years — the same time it would take us to provide Poland with our much more advanced system.

Poland counted on permanent NATO bases, but most likely they will not be created. If Poland had MEADS, would we be, at least temporarily, able to defend ourselves against Russia?

Missile defense systems are very expensive, in the last 40 years only four countries have purchased Patriots in Western Europe: Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, and Greece. This is why the Polish system needs to be based on a common, open architecture, with components working closely together. In this way, in the event of an attack, Poland could be defended not only by itself but also the NATO umbrella. In a few hours Germany could move to move Poland some of its eight–ten MEADS batteries. The same could be done by other Polish allies.

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