The Polish defense industry model begins to crack

The Polish defense industry is certainly one of the most rapidly developing industries in Europe today, thanks to the numerous equipment contracts signed or to be signed by the country's authorities. However, as shown by the recent disappointments of the PZL Mielec factory which assembles S70 Black Hawk helicopters for Sikorsky, this model on which Polish ambition is built could well be structurally unstable.

A few days ago, the new Polish Prime Minister, Donald Tusk, announced that all the commitments and contracts signed by the previous mandate, in terms of defense equipment, would be respected.

If this announcement demonstrates the commitment of the Polish nation to ensure its own security in the face of the Russian threat, as well as to take a central position in NATO's defensive system, it also commits the new government to what we knows how to represent a budgetary and industrial equation that will be very difficult to balance.

Local production supported to meet the ambitions of the Polish armies

To partially amortize the enormous costs for the acquisition of combat aircraft, frigates and submarines, as well as the most formidable mechanized land force in Europe, the previous Duda government had designed an audacious plan, relying both on the national debt, and on the development of a powerful defense industry, to absorb the costs.

Polish defense industry K239 Chunmoo
Assembly of KRM K239 Chunmoo by the Polish defense industry began in May 2023

In fact, most of the contracts negotiated in recent years by Warsaw are based on a significant local production component, with technology transfers and commercial cooperation on the European market.

This is how the K2PL tanks, Krab self-propelled guns and even Polish frigates will all be assembled on site, with the corollary creating a major industrial site providing jobs, and therefore tax revenue, for Warsaw.

A structurally unstable model for the Polish defense industry

However, as we discussed in a previous article from June, the Polish model suffers from an obvious weakness, exposing it, in the medium term, to very high risks.

Indeed, to respond to the rapidly growing Russian threat, and to replace equipment inherited from the Soviet era, Warsaw has decided to renew and extend all of its equipment over a particularly short period of time, from around 15 years.

However, the replacement of this equipment should only occur once its operational lifespan has been reached, i.e. beyond 30 years, if we base ourselves on the technological pace of recent decades.

We understand, therefore, that the survival of infrastructure and industrial skills will be very difficult for Warsaw to ensure, beyond the expiration of production contracts for their armies, unless it becomes a major player on the export market. .

Leopard 2 Krauss Maffei Wegmann factory
It will be difficult for Polish manufacturers to establish themselves in Europe in the face of long-established manufacturers, such as the German KMW with its Leopard 2.

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