For the first time, Poland has deployed a Patriot missile defense system at Warsaw-Babice airport to protect its capital, despite Russian missiles violating international borders, raising fears of contagion.
The Polish Defense Ministry announced this after a meeting of Polish Defense Minister Mariusz Błaszczak with servicemen from the 3rd Air Defense Missile Brigade, which is supposed to take over the duty of operating the Patriot missile defense system in the capital. , Warsaw.
On October 5, the Polish Ministry of Defense stated on Platform, “For the first time, Warsaw has a missile defense system based on the PATRIOT system,” he added.
In 2018, the Polish government agreed to purchase two Patriot batteries with more than 200 missiles and is currently seeking more Patriot launchers and missiles from the United States. Additionally, Germany sent its Patriot defense missile systems to Poland earlier this year to help the country protect its airspace.
Since the beginning of this year, three Patriot air defense batteries have been stationed in the Polish city of Zamosc, located 50 kilometers (31 miles) from the Ukrainian border, to protect the southern city and its vital rail connection to Ukraine.
Although the deployment of German Patriot systems in Poland was due to end soon, Berlin has offered to extend it until the end of 2023.
Poland received the German Patriots after the impact of a stray missile in the Polish town of Przewodow last November, which caused casualties among Polish citizens. Initially, the missile was said to belong to Russia, raising fears of a third world war. However, it was later discovered that it was a missing missile from a Ukrainian air defense system.
Although confirmation that the missile did not belong to Russia prevented a possible escalation between Poland and Moscow, it outlined the need for powerful air defense protection in the event of war around Warsaw. This is how Poland’s deployment of Patriot missile systems defense arose.
Earlier this year, Polish media reported that a military object found in a Polish forest in April was a Russian KH-55 missile. At the time, authorities did not observe any trace of an explosion at the site, which was worryingly hundreds of kilometers from Poland’s borders with Ukraine. Surveillance of the capital, therefore, is justifiable.
Notably, the deployment comes at a time of tension between neighboring Poland and Ukraine, as Warsaw drew its military support for Kyiv last month. The issue of Warsaw’s relations with Kyiv has been at the center of the ongoing campaign as Poland prepares for national elections on October 15.
These ties have become more strained in recent weeks following disagreements between the governments of both nations over extending the embargo on Ukrainian grain imports.
Rural voters are likely to determine the outcome of the upcoming elections. The situation has therefore become a diplomatic dispute, with Ukraine’s most important ally turning its back on it at a crucial moment.
“Ukraine is defending itself from a savage Russian attack, and we understand that this attack creates an extraordinary situation,” Morawiecki said during an interview last month. “We no longer donate weapons to Ukraine because we are now arming ourselves with the most modern weapons.”
Although Morawiecki refrained from explaining why the system was being deployed in Warsaw, some Internet users on social media said it could be another attempt to secure public support before the elections.
However, the security of the capital may remain the main reason for this deployment, especially given that Russia has launched a missile blitzkrieg against Ukraine.
Poland has reasons to worry.
Patriot’s deployment in Warsaw also coincides with several incidents of Russian missiles and drones frequently discovered in neighboring countries. For example, in recent weeks, remains of drones and missiles have been found in the territories of Romania, Moldova and Transnistria, which has raised alarm about a possible spillover of the war in Ukraine.
A stray Russian missile apparently fell on a Transnistrian village on October 5, the day the Polish Defense Ministry announced Patriot’s deployment to Warsaw. Recently, Russia has intensified its missile attack against Ukraine and its Black Sea ports using long-range missiles that sometimes cross Ukrainian airspace into neighboring countries.
This explains the deployment of the system for active combat duty in Warsaw. Additionally, it comes months after Błaszczak announced in February that the military had moved its Patriot surface-to-air missile systems to a military base west of Warsaw, where they were to remain temporarily as part of the training of Polish forces.
Poland has also made other concerted efforts to strengthen its defenses. For example, to strengthen its air defense and secure its airspace more effectively, Poland is also acquiring two Saab 340 airborne early warning (AEW) aircraft.
The first of the two plans, which will require intense surveillance, was handed over by Saab to the Polish authorities in a ceremony held earlier this month in Linköping (Sweden).
In addition, the US Air Force deployed four F-16 fighters to neighboring Poland on October 3 as part of the NATO air policing mission. The F-16s were sent from the 52nd Fighter Wing at Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, to Powidz Air Base, Poland.
“Operating from forward positions allows US Air Force pilots to live, train and operate alongside their European counterparts while enabling NATO’s collective defense capabilities,” the USAFE statement said. “This capability is critical for a timely and coordinated response, if and when requested.”
Additionally, the Pentagon announced earlier this week that the US State Department has approved the possible sale of an Integrated Air and Missile Defense Combat Command System to Poland for an estimated price of $4 billion.
Poland had requested the purchase of the second phase of a two-phase program for the PATRIOT Configuration-3+ equipped command system with modernized sensors and components to improve its air defenses. The Pentagon said the sale would include 93 of the system’s combat operations centers, 175 fire control network relays and other related equipment.