Britain strengthens ties with Poland, Ukraine amidst nervousness in Eastern Europe


LONDON – The British government has announced new defense collaborations with Poland and Ukraine following a visit to the two eastern European countries by Defense Secretary Ben Wallace this week.

Poland announced on November 18 that it had selected the Modular Common Anti-Aircraft Missile (CAMM) and MBDA Launcher as the centerpiece of its multibillion-dollar NAREW air defense system program being developed and directed. by the local company PGZ.

During a visit to Ukraine, the British said the two sides had made progress in talks on a plan to modernize the national navy.

The Polish government has previously described the NAEW program as the largest and most complex modernization program in the history of the Polish armed forces.

The planned air defense purchase is part of a large-scale modernization of the Polish armed forces which has recently enabled them to acquire a series of new weapons, including Patriot anti-missile systems, F-35 fighter jets, frigates for the navy and an order for 250 Abrams tanks.

PGZ and its local partners will develop radars and other key systems for the air defense system, with MBDA providing missile and launcher technology to enable the systems to be supplied by local industry.

Chris Allam, Managing Director of MBDA UK, said the agreement “endorses the deep relationship we have established with the Polish Ministry of National Defense and Polish industry and is underpinned by the nature of our proposal for cooperation and unprecedented technology transfer for NAEW and Polish air defense. . “

CAMMS was originally developed for the British Army and has already been acquired by the British Army and the Royal Navy. The missile also obtained several export orders.

MBDA’s bid beat competing bids involving Israeli, Norwegian, US and other companies.

The British said the declaration of intent was a historic moment for Anglo-Polish defense relations.

In a meeting with his counterpart and other senior Polish officials on November 18, Wallace said the agreement “will bring a radical change in our defense cooperation with Poland and pave the way for our armed forces to operate even more closely “.

Cooperation was further strengthened by the British announcement of the deployment of up to 150 military engineers to support Polish troops and police on the border with Belarus.

A major crisis unfolds at the border as Alexander Lukashenko’s government in Minsk seeks to undermine Poland, Latvia and Lithuania in retaliation for European Union sanctions imposed this summer.

Amid mounting tensions with Russia over a possible invasion of Ukraine and the migrant crisis with Belarus, Wallace was in Poland for the final leg of a three-day tour that also included visits in Rome and Ukraine.

The visit to Ukraine also generated good news for the British defense sector, with the two governments announcing that they had made progress on a deal to significantly modernize Ukrainian naval warships and base facilities.

The British are providing a loan of 1.7 billion pounds ($ 2.3 billion) to help recapitalize Ukrainian naval capabilities.

The program includes two old refurbished Royal Navy minesweepers, missiles, new warships, the development of new naval facilities as well as various support and training programs.

Earlier this year, the British warship builder and support services company Babcock International signed a tripartite Memorandum of Implementation (MoI) with the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense and the UK government to continue the upgrade .

In a statement released by Babcock at the time, the company said the program includes “enhancing capabilities on existing naval platforms, delivering new platforms, including rapid attack missiles, modern frigate capability, on-board armaments and training of naval personnel. “

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