Sky surveillance will reach new level: Poland to buy aerostat systems
A total of four aerostats will be delivered to Poland, as the formation of a air and surface radar battalion was announced earlier
The US Department of State has approved the sale of airspace and surface radar systems and other equipment to Poland, including logistical support, Defense Express reports. These include airborne and ground radar reconnaissance systems, onboard early warning radars with a friend-or-foe identification option and other systems, as well as program management support, testing, technical support, transport, spare parts, training and equipment, technical documentation, etc.
The estimated value of the deal is $1.2 billion (this is the ceiling price, which may eventually be reduced). According to Paweł Bejda, the deputy head of the US Defense Department, it is about four reconnaissance balloons. "The negotiations will soon be completed, and the contract signed. Once the new systems are delivered [to Polish Armed Forces], sky monitoring will reach a completely new level," he said.
The main contractors of the project are Raytheon Intelligence and Space; TCOM, LP, ELTA North America and Avantus Federal LLC (a subsidiary of QinetiQ, Inc.).
"The proposed sale will improve Poland’s capability to meet current and future threats of enemy air and ground weapons systems. Poland will use the capability as an airborne early warning system to defend against incoming regional threats. This will also enable Poland to increase its contribution to future NATO operations. Poland will have no difficulty absorbing this equipment into its armed forces," the US State Department said in a statement.
Poland had plans to purchase a reconnaissance airspace and surface radar systems back in 2017 under the Barbara program, but the purchase request was submitted only in May 2023, after the scandal with the Kh-55 missile that was not shot down by Polish air defense and flew hundreds of kilometers into the country's territory.
Later in 2023, it became known that Poland was forming an airspace and surface radar systems battalion to strengthen its air defense. At the time, there were plans to create four posts with the first deployed in July 2026, and the goal was to be able to detect targets with a single aerostat at a distance of hundreds of kilometers.
In addition to airspace and surface radar systems, in 2023 Poland also decided to purchase Saab 340 AEW long-range radar reconnaissance aircraft to enhance its intelligence capabilities, with the first aircraft due to arrive in the country soon, and a total of two used aircraft under a contract worth about $58 million.