Posts Tagged Poland
The French arms company Thales was the prime contractor and minority partner in the billion pound contract to convert the Israeli Hermes 450 drone into a British Watchkeeper drone for the UK armed forces. The project was plagued with delays. Touted as essential for the British forces in Afghanistan, Watchkeeper wasn’t ready until the UK deployment was almost at the end, in 2014. At the last minute one Watchkeeper system was sent to Afghanistan in August, 2014, for a quick fly around, more as a sales tool than a useful part of the British armed forces. Information was relayed to an armed RAF Predator drones which carried out an airstrike on the basis of that information, (leading the cynical to wonder who might have died to promote Thales latest product).
The demonstration was witnessed by a number of French military officials, who announced themselves enough pleased that they recommended to the French government that Watchkeeper drones be purchased for their own fleet. Thales is promoting Watchkeeper to the ‘Système de Drone Tactique’, a French procurement project, but no purchase has been made.
Since the project was completed, information about the Watchkeepers purchased by the UK government has mostly dried up, though it is believed that the majority of the 54 drones purchased have been mothballed into storage, as the military mostly uses Predator drones purchased from the US in its forays abroad.
Recently Thales has tried to sell Watchkeeper to other countries, as the public arm of a partnership that includes the Israeli company Elbit Systems as a majority partner. Countries that are embarrassed by interactions with companies associated with the apartheid Israeli government are able to put some distance between them and themselves by dealing with Thales. It also provides cover for the UK government, which is anxious to to sell these value-added, Israeli-based Watchkeepers, manufactured in UK factories.
Thales has offered the Polish military an armed version of Watchkeeper.
In late 2015 Thales plans to fly Watchkeeper from Parc Aberporth in public airspace over Cardiff, Wales.
Outline of Israeli arms sales to Poland, and military cooperation.
Israeli company Rafael to invest 423.6 million dollars in Poland over ten years
More Israel-Polish cooperation
Poland to consider buying Israeli drones
Israel and Poland have a long standing arms trading association. Not only are there direct arms sales by Israel to Poland, but Israeli companies have invested in building arms manufacturing facilities in Poland.
Israeli arms manufacturer Rafael Advanced Defense Systems has agreed to invest $423 million in Poland to build amaments in Poland, specifically the Spike anti tank missile. Poland would also like to purchase Israeli drone technology and have the drones built in Poland.
Aeronautics, a Yavnah based Israeli company, is supplying the Polish army with drones.
Poland is purchasing border security technology from companies including Israel’s Elbit Security systems, for 2.3 million Euros.
Haaretz reports that Poland’s GROM special operations forces cooperates with several Israeli secret police and anti terrorist units. Polish airmen might also train in Israel for flying older F-16 fighters purchased from the US. Regarding close security and military ties between Israel and Poland, former Polish ambassador to Israel is said to have stated: “We don’t talk in public about those things. We just do them.”
Israel and Poland have had an arms trading relationship from the first days after Poland emerged from the Communist bloc and turned to the US and Nato as allies. Indeed, several members of the party that evolved from the Polish Communist party were involved in a scandal involving arms purchases from an Israeli company.
Poland and Israel have many special ties, some involving the location in Poland of extermination camps like Auschwitz. As well, Poland facilitated the departure from the former Solviet Union of Russian Jews destined for Israel. Many Israelis have a Polish background. The two countries have exchanged many visits of presidents and ministers of foreign affairs.
After being invited to join NATO in 1989, Poland has become an enthusiastic NATO member, sending troops to Afghanistan in the original deployment, and preparing to send additional troops in 2009 to combat the worsening situation to NATO occupying forces.
Part of the prepartion Poland has undertaken to join NATO has been to create interoperability with NATO technology and operating procedures. This has meant that Poland has purchased a large amount of new arms from NATO compatible arms companies, like those in the US and Israel.
In September, 2008, Polish Defence Minister Bogdan Klich announced that Poland planned to spend $25 Billion over the next ten years to modernise Poland’s military. Sizeable chunks of this funding would go to buy American made missiles. Some would be used to protect American missiles to be stationed in Poland under a US-Poland agreement signed in August, 2008. Poland is rumoured to have demanded that the Americans supply Poland with Patriot Missiles in return for Americans placing interceptor missiles on Polish soil.
Poland, like other new members to NATO, has committed to increasing defence spending. Much of this spending will go to the US. But a sizeable chunk will go to Israel, and the domestic armaments industry, which is sometimes just a manufacturing facility for Israeli designed military equipment.