MoD discusses possibility of HIMARS coproduction in Poland
During a visit to the US, Poland's defence minister talked with Lockheed Martin on Thursday about the possibility of coproducing HIMARS rocket systems in Poland.
Mariusz Błaszczak, who is also a deputy prime minister, started his three-day US trip on Thursday with a visit to the company's facilities in Camden, Arkansas.
"Following talks with the management of Lockheed Martin, I heard assurances of their readiness to cooperate with the Polish defence industry, of their readiness to strengthen the Polish defence industry, which is beneficial also to the United States because it enables an increase in production when it comes to HIMARS (High Mobility Artillery Rocket System - PAP)," Błaszczak told a press briefing.
He went on to say that as early as this year a "HIMARS centre" would be established in Poland, intended as a "hub for the servicing and production of HIMARS, not only for Polish needs but also for European countries," many of which are interested in buying the rocket system.
Błaszczak added that also this year, the first launchers, ordered in 2019, would reach the 18th Mechanised Division, responsible for defending the so-called Suwałki Gap in the east of the country, between Belarus and the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad. He said negotiations were under way on the procurement of a further 500 launchers, approved by the US Congress and State Department, and that he was optimistic a deal would be signed soon.
He had also discussed the possibility of producing Javelin guided anti-tank missiles in Poland, which according to him, had proved themselves in Ukraine. Although the Polish army already has Javelins, Błaszczak said the "needs are much greater," including interest from other European countries.
The deputy prime minister said that on Friday he would sign a cooperation agreement on defence procurement during a meeting with Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin. He explained that the deal would create the foundation for the Polish defence industry to work more effectively with its US counterpart.
In addition to his meeting with Austin, Błaszczak will also meet with the head of Raytheon (producer of the Patriot air defence system).