29 November 2017 |James LaPorta | UPI
Nov. 29 (UPI) — The State Department has approved possible foreign military sales to Poland for High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems and AIM-120C-7 Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missiles as NATO continues to bolster Poland’s defense arsenal — a move that Russia says undermines regional security.
The Defense Security Cooperation Agency, which is in charge of foreign military arms sales and cooperation between the U.S. and NATO partners, announced the deals on Tuesday.
The sales, valued at a combined estimated cost of $500 million, are for the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System, or HIMARS, and AIM-120C-7 Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missiles, or AMRAAM. Both deals still require congressional approval before being finalized.
If approved, Poland will receive 150 AIM-120-7 AMRAAMs and HIMARS coupled with 16 Guided Multiple Launch Rocket Systems, an M31A1 Unitary and nine Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System.
The deal also includes 61 surface-to-surface guided missiles, as well as navigation and communication devices, training rockets and other service equipment.
The proposed deals are the second time this month that the departments of State and Defense have approved the sale of weapons to Poland. Nine days ago, Poland received notice that it would receive an Integrated Air and Missile Defense Battle Command System with Raytheon, Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin being tapped to provide the services.
That deal, worth $10.5 billion, gave Poland 208 Patriot Advanced Capability-3 Missile Segment Enhancement missiles, a surface-to-air missile system.
The new deals will “support the foreign policy and national security objectives of the United States by helping to improve the security of a NATO ally which has been, and continues to be an important force for political stability and economic progress in Europe,” State Department officials say.
The weapon systems provided to Poland are expected to be used to modernize its armed forces and strengthen its homeland defense capabilities, with State Department officials saying “the proposed sale of this equipment and support will not alter the basic military balance in the region.”
The Russian government, however, disagrees with the U.S. assessment and has consistently denounced the sale of military hardware to Poland, claiming it undermines regional security. Russia’s Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu spoke out against the surge of NATO military drills in October, saying that “only in the past three months there have been over 30 drills in East European and Baltic states.”
Early last year, Poland deployed a 46,000 strong army to its border as a show of force amid growing concern over Kremlin efforts to expand Russia’s influence across eastern Europe — a call back to the Cold War era under the former USSR, when Russia’s influence and borderlines stretched across Poland, all the way to East Germany, Hungary and down to Bulgaria.
Lockheed Martin in Grand Prairie, Texas, will be the primary contractor on the contract, with support from Polska Grupa Zbrojenjiowa, a Polish-state owned defense contractor.
U.S. officials assess that there will be “no adverse impact on U.S. defense readiness as a result of this proposed sale.”