Saturday, May 03, 2014

Influence of Crimea on Poland's Defense Industry

     By now everyone reading this blog is doubtless familiar with the recent Crisis in Crimea between Ukraine and Russia, so I won't rehash it here.  Equally obvious is that the rest of the world has taken note, and is carefully paying attention to the situation as it develops.  One nation in particular has been vocal about their security concerns due to Russian aggression--Poland.  While their overarching political and military concerns have been important enough to warrant a visit from Vice President Biden, less known is the impact on the Polish military and defense industry.

     Two relatively recent developments that have been in the spotlight are the Polish PL-01 "stealth" tank, and the MSBS Radon service rifle. 

Here's a picture for reference:

   The PL-01 tank prototype was unveiled prior to the recent crisis, but has gotten more attention as Russia ramped up its local aggression.  While its weight places it squarely in the "light" tank category, the PL-01 incorporates a number of innovative technologies onto an armored ground platform.  It is relatively "invisible" to both the radar and infrared spectrums, and can manipulate its heat signature to blend in with surroundings and defeat thermal imaging.  Its armor is so advanced it can trick enemy sensors into believing it's a car, while also evading airborne and ground detection capabilities.  It is designed to mitigate the threat posed by the latest Russian tanks and Mi-28 attack helicopters

While no orders have officially been placed for the PL-01, there is little doubt that it has captured the eye of the Polish military.

     The second development in the Polish military regards the MSBS Radon service rifle family (seen below):
While adopting a NATO-friendly service rifle might not seem like a big deal, consider that later this year the rifle(s) above are replacing a domestic variation of the Russian AK rifle.  There are few ways for a formerly oppressed Soviet satellite nation to signal resistance to Russia than moving closer to the West.  Poland's military and defense industry are utilizing classic Cold War tactics to signal to Russia that Poland stands firmly opposed to Russian encroachment.

     Exploring a next-generation stealth tank and transitioning to a domestically-produced rifle compatible with the latest NATO standards isn't cheap.  Financial Times reports that Poland is currently increasing defense spending on a massive scale.  It is nearing 1.95% of GDP, and amounts to the highest defense spending in Poland's history.  In an excellent write-up, the War is Boring blog reports that Poland is spending twice the entire Israeli defense budget solely on modernization efforts.  This is in addition to planned purchases of new aircraft and armor.

     You don't need to be a Cold Warrior to recognize the importance of these efforts.  Poland remembers WWII quite well, and is determined to not make the same mistakes that led to the Charge at Krojanty (which started the myth of Polish cavalry attacking German tanks).  If Russians attempt to encroach on Poland in the 21st century, the Polish military and defense industry will make sure that technology is squarely on the side of the Polish.  Any foreign aggression will face an entirely different level of resistance, and it might look like the business end of the PL-01:

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