Poland - Country Commercial Guide
Defense Industry

Sub-sector best prospects: Include the sub-sectors in which U.S. companies would have the best opportunity of exporting.

Last published date: 2021-09-03

Due to the sensitive nature of the defense industry sector, there are no official statistics available on local production, imports, and exports. The only data available through public sources is the annual amount of defense expenditures, which is illustrated in the table below.  

Overview 

Defense spending in Poland 

 

Year 

 

2011 

 

 

 

2012 

 

2013 

 

2014 

 

2015 

 

 

2016 

 

2017 

 

2018 

 

2019 

 

2020 

 

2021 

Approximate Defense Spending 

$ billion 

 

8.79 

 

 

9.05 

 

 

10.36 

 

10.67 

 

10.30 

 

9.8* 

 

9.5 

 

10.1 

 

12.5 

 

12.5 

 

13.3 


*Please note that USD value went up in 2016.Source: Ministry of Defense (MON) – Annual Budget 

2016 exchange rate: 1 USD = 4.0 PLN 

2017 exchange rate: 1 USD = 3.6 PLN 

2018 exchange rate: 1 USD = 3.7 PLN 

2019 exchange rate: 1 USD = 3.8 PLN 

2020 exchange rate: 1 USD = 4.0 PLN 

The current exchange rate: 1 USD = 3.9 PLN 

Poland leads the former East-bloc countries in parting from Soviet-era equipment and has long term plans to replace any remaining Soviet era equipment with modern NATO-compatible platforms. However, the Government’s plans to strengthen and reorganize the armed forces and domestic defense industry competes with other reforms that are financed through the state budget.

Poland is in the midst of an ambitious 15-year defense modernization program (valued at over $130 billion) and the Polish defense budget has increased yearly since 2016. Polish legislation mandates a gradual increase of annual defense spending to at least 2.5 percent of GDP by 2030.  The 2021 defense budget raised defense spending to $13.1 billion (PLN 51.83 billion), a 3.7 percent increase over 2020 expenditures and an increase from 2.1 percent of 2020 GDP to 2.2 percent of estimated 2021 GDP. 

Poland’s military is undergoing changes designed to transform it into a more capable, mobile, and NATO-compatible force. Change is occurring in every area, including force structure, staff organization, training programs, doctrine, and security procedures. Modernization plans include improvement of troop capacity/mobility, air defense systems and further development of a professional army.  

The Polish Armed Forces modernization plan is based on three principles: 1) assessment of Polish military needs; 2) timeframe for delivery of equipment; and 3) Polish industry participation. The implementation of the program has placed an emphasis on using Polish defense industry capabilities, especially Polish Armament Group (PGZ) companies. U.S. companies are encouraged to team with Polish defense companies seeking cooperative agreements or joint venture opportunities that, combined with the relatively lower cost of production in Poland, will be attractive to potential customers. 

 As of August 2021, Poland has more than 130 active FMS cases. Major recent FMS sales include F-35 fighter aircraft, the PATRIOT air and missile defense system, High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS), Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missiles-Extended Range (JASSM-ER), and Javelin Anti-Tank Missiles.  

Although Poland is no longer a recipient of new Foreign Military Financing (FMF), it has used previously allocated FMF funding for night vision devices, unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) procurement and sustainment, signals intelligence, airfield navigational aids and tactical airlift support.

Leading Sub-Sectors 

Opportunities for American defense firms exist mainly in investment, technology transfer, and co-production work. Polish defense companies routinely seek cooperative agreements or joint venture opportunities with foreign defense companies.

Receptivity to American products is high due to an excellent reputation for high quality products, reliability, and technical assistance. However, technological advantage is not the only factor determining success in the Polish market. American companies should focus on educating end-users in the defense sector. A successful U.S. exporter is expected to support its agent/representative at trade shows, seminars, and conferences.

Polish officials maintain that the most important factor in awarding a contract is price (which is particularly critical for big-ticket purchases), after which other variables, such as quality, availability of services and training, technical assistance, and start-up operation of the equipment, become important. Therefore, superior performance offered from U.S. companies will not always win the deal.

The Polish government is required by law to hold public tenders for major procurements, although there is a national security exception. Financial value, project complexity, international cooperation, and political sensitivity determine the project category.

American companies that are well informed about upcoming projects are free to submit tenders to the contracting authority directly. However, direct purchases from foreign suppliers are very rare and we encourage U.S. firms to identify local agents/representatives who can provide necessary assistance. Selecting an appropriate representative is very important. The agent should have very close contacts in the military/defense market. A reputable agent with good contacts can provide important and timely information, which is often not readily available through public sources. Additional considerations should be given in view of complicated tender procedures and import regulations. American companies exporting to Poland should be familiar with the country’s Public Procurement Law, Polonization, and Offset Act. Polonization is part of Poland’s long-term plan to become more self-sufficient, and to increase and promote local industrial production. The bottom line is that it is nearly impossible to effectively sell defense products without a competent agent.

The Office for Offset Agreements at the Ministry of National Defense (MoND) coordinates Poland’s defense offsets. The offset requirements are an important part of defense procurement contracts. On June 26, 2014, the Polish Parliament adopted a new Offset Act called the “Act on Certain Agreements Concluded in Connection with Contracts Essential for National Security.” The new Offset Act was signed into law on July 7, 2014. The new law covering the use of offsets in defense acquisition brings the country in line with European Union (EU) military procurement rules.

American companies interested in competing for Polish defense procurements are advised to contact the Office of Defense Cooperation (ODC) and the Commercial Service at the U.S. Embassy in Warsaw prior to contacting any Polish government agency.

The U.S. Commercial Service identifies defense industry as one of its sectors with sizeable American sales potential in Poland. It offers several commercial export promotion programs and advice on regulation compliance, the market potential for a product or service, agent/representative vetting, as well as advocacy support. Please visit the Commercial Service in Warsaw website for more information on how we help U.S. companies do business in Poland.

Foreign investors and joint venture partners with local firms can take advantage of government incentives. Many U.S. businesses in Poland take the form of joint ventures with Polish companies and are specifically set up to handle sales in the market. Joint ventures are an excellent way to facilitate export sales to the Polish market. U.S. companies competing for Polish defense contracts are encouraged to look for joint ventures, co-production, and other cooperative opportunities with Polish companies to make their bid offers more attractive. The relatively lower cost of production in Poland has led many foreign defense companies to seek cooperation agreements or joint venture opportunities with Polish defense companies that can produce equipment, which will be attractive to potential customers. Examples of such products include tanks, armored vehicles, artillery, ships, aircraft, and helicopters. 

Military Force Structure 

Poland’s military is traditionally land-force heavy, totaling 113,550 military personnel; 53,000 troops in the Land Forces; 17,000 in the Air Force; 7,150 in the Navy; 4,400 in the Territorial Defense Forces, and 32,000 assigned across different functions like Special Forces (SOF), Logistics, and administrative staffs. The Territorial Defense Forces also have 24,000 part-time volunteers organized in 19 independent brigades across Poland.  As one of the largest militaries in NATO, Poland has started a 15-year plan to grow its active force to 150,000, TDF volunteers to 48,000, and to modernize defense equipment. Poland’s military structure is also unique in NATO with three principal commands fulfilling functional roles under the General Staff. The General Command (GENCOM) is Poland’s force provider responsible to manning and equipping subordinate air, land, naval and SOF inspectorates. The Operational Command (OPSCOM) is the force employer who receives forces and equipment from GENCOM to employ during crisis and war. Finally, Poland’s Support Inspectorate is the logistics arm ensuring both GENCOM and OPSCOM have cross-country mobility and sustainment for forces.

Defense Modernization Plan 

In October 2019, the Polish Ministry of National Defense announced its new, 15-year “Technical Modernization Plan 2020-2035,” which outlined a number of procurement programs: 

HARPIA Program 

Acquisition of 32 new generation multi-task F-35 aircraft 

The modernization plan also includes a requirement for additional F-16 aircraft. 

 

HARPI SZPON Program

Acquisition of stealthy unmanned aerial vehicle aircraft to enhance the combat capabilities of F-35 aircraft. 

 

NAREW program 

Modernization of Poland’s short range air-and-missile defense capability. Polish defense industry is expected to be heavily involved. 

 

KRUK Program 

Acquisition of modern attack helicopters for Polish Land Forces. 

 

OBSERWATOR Program

Acquisition of satellites, microsatellites, and reconnaissance aircraft

 

CYBER.MIL Program 

Acquisition of cyber defense tools and software, with heavy involvement by Polish industry. 

 

WISŁA Program

Modernization of Poland’s medium air and missile defense capability

 

GRYF Program 

Acquisition of tactical medium-range unmanned aerial vehicles 

 

WAŻKA Program 

Acquisition of unmanned aerial vehicles intended for use mainly in urbanized areas, equipped with an optoelectronic head that allows observation during both day and night. 

 

PŁOMYKÓWKA Program 

Acquisition of reconnaissance aircraft 

 

MIECZNIK Program

Acquisition of two coastal defense vessels 

 

REGINA Program 

Acquisition of 155 mm fire division modules to enhance the fire support capability at the tactical level. The major contractor is Huta Stalowa Wola (HSW).

 

Continuation of HOMAR Program 

Possible acquisition of additional rocket launchers, capable of striking targets in the 70-300 km range 

 

PUSTELNIK Program 

Acquisition of light anti-tank guided missile launchers 

 

BORSUK Program 

Introduction of a new combat vehicle based on a universal modular tracked chassis, developed and manufactured by the Polish defense industry. It will replace the Soviet era BWP-1 vehicle. 

 

WILK Program 

Acquisition of new generation main battle tanks 

 

BALSA Program 

Acquisition of indigenously produced advanced engineering robots for bomb disposal units 

 

OTTOKAR BRZOZA Program

Acquisition of tank destroyers for the anti-tank regiment 

 

GROSZEK Program 

Acquisition of pods for combat aircraft

 

GLADIUS Program 

Acquisition of unmanned search-strike systems (“loitering munitions”)

 

Small MUSTANG Program 

Acquisition of high-mobility trucks and passenger vehicles to replace Honkers

 

Source: Ministry of Defense (MON) 

Resources 

Trade events 

Participation in trade fairs, conferences, and seminars is an effective avenue for promotion in the defense/military sector in Poland. 

The MSPO International Defense Industry Exhibition  is the largest annual event for the defense and security industries in Central and Eastern Europe, and one of Europe’s three largest trade shows dedicated to the defense sector (after Paris and London). MSPO is held annually in Kielce (south east Poland) at the beginning of September. Dates for the 2021 show are September 7-10, 2021.

Other important exhibitions in this sector are: 

BALT-EXPO - International Maritime Exhibition held biannually in Gdańsk (northern Poland). Dates for the 2021 show are September 6-8, 2021.

BALT-MILITARY-EXPO focused on maritime safety and security, sea- and land-based defense and rescue systems. is held bi-annually in Gdansk (northern Poland). The 2021 edition was held April 20-22 in the ONLINE formula. The upcoming show will take place in 2023.

Radom AIR SHOW held biannually in Radom (south-east Poland). The organizer of this show is Polish Air Force HQ, the city of Radom, and the Polish Aero Club. Dates for the 2021 show are August 28-29, 2021.

 

Additional Resources & Contacts: 

Ministry of National Defense (MOD)

Armaments Inspectorate (MOD Procurement Office)

Polish Armaments Group (PGZ)

Polish Chamber of Defense Industry

Institute of Aviation 

 

For more information about the Defense Industry Sector, please contact: 

U.S. Commercial Service Poland 

Commercial Specialist Zofia Sobiepanek-Kukuryka 

E-mail : zofia.sobiepanek@trade.gov