Sub-sector best prospects: Include the sub-sectors in which U.S. companies would have the best opportunity of exporting.
Due to the sensitive nature of the defense industry sector, no official statistics are available on local production, imports, and exports. The only data available through public sources is the annual defense expenditures, illustrated in the table below.
Approximate Defense Spending
Source: Ministry of National Defense (MoND) – Annual Budget
*Please note that USD value went up in 2016.
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 = 3.95 PLN
2021 exchange rate: 1 USD = 3.87 PLN
The current exchange rate as of July 2022: 1 USD = 4.59 PLN
Poland leads the former East-bloc countries in departing 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’s 2022 defense budget increased defense spending to about $15.1 billion (PLN 57.8 billion). It is PLN 5.9 billion more than in 2021 and an 11.5% increase over 2021 expenditures. It is set at the level of 2.2% of 2021 GDP.
In May 2022, Poland’s Minister of Defense signed an agreement with the President of BGK Bank (Bank Gospodarstwa Krajowego) on servicing the Armed Forces Support Fund. The Act on the “Defense of the Homeland,” which entered into force on April 23, 2022, regulates and defines the general matters related to national defense. In addition, it presents new solutions and regulations in the area of financing the Polish Armed Forces. One of the new solutions in this area is the Armed Forces Support Fund established at BGK Bank. The purpose of creating this new fund is to significantly increase the expenditure on modernizing the Armed Forces. In addition to this fund, Poland indicated defense spending would grow to 3.0% in 2023.
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.
Major recent FMS agreements include the Abrams M1A2 SEPV3 main battle tank, the Integrated Battle Command System (IBCS), PATRIOT air and missile defense system, F-35 Lightening II fighter aircraft, High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS), and Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missiles-Extended Range (JASSM-ER).
Poland is no longer a recipient of Foreign Military Financing (FMF).
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 vitally 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, though there is a national security exemption. Financial value, project complexity, international cooperation, and political sensitivity determine the project category.
American companies are free to submit tender bids 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 local 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.
The U.S. Commercial Service identifies the 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 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 and currently totals 120,200 military personnel: 61,200 troops in the Land Forces; 16,500 in the Air Force; 7,000 in the Navy; 32,000 in the Territorial Defense Forces (TDF), and 3,500 in Special Forces (SOF).
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.
In light of Russia’s February 2022 renewed invastof Ukraine, in March 2022 the Polish government implemented a new law that facilitates the strengthening of Poland’s armed forces. Poland will increase the defense budget up to 3% GDP in 2023 on and roughly double the size of its armed forces to 300,000 personnel (including 50,000 in the TDF).
Defense Modernization Plan
In October 2019, the Polish Ministry of National Defense announced a 15-year “Technical Modernization Plan 2020-2035,” which outlined several procurement programs:
Acquisition of 32 new generation multi-task F-35 aircraft. On January 31, 2020, Poland’s Minister of National Defense signed a contract for the purchase of 32 F-35 multi-role aircraft for the Polish Air Force. The contract, valued at over $4 billion, includes delivery of 32 F-35A aircraft along with a training and logistics package. 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.
Modernization of Poland’s short-range air and missile defense capability. Polish defense industry is leading this effort.
Acquisition of modern attack helicopters.
Acquisition of satellites, microsatellites, and reconnaissance aircraft.
Acquisition of cyber defense tools and software, with heavy involvement by Polish industry.
Modernization of Poland’s medium air and missile defense capability. With an FMS program for Patriot missiles and first deliveries planned for 2023, Poland has requested additional Patriot quantities, along with the cutting-edge Integrated Battle Command System (IBCS).
Acquisition of tactical medium- range unmanned aerial vehicles.
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.
Acquisition of reconnaissance aircraft.
Acquisition of two coastal defense vessels. In July 2021, an agreement was signed between the Armament Inspectorate (now Armament Agency) and the PGZ-Miecznik Consortium (Polish industry) for the delivery of three frigates for the Polish Navy under the “Miecznik” program. This contract is the largest ever ordered from the domestic defense industry.
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 HIMARS Program
A recent request for the acquisition of additional HIMARS missiles and rocket launchers, capable of striking targets in the 70-300 km range.
Acquisition of light anti-tank guided missile launcher.
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.
Acquisition of new generation main battle tanks. In April 2022, the Polish government signed an agreement to purchase 250 M1A2 SEP v.3 Abrams. The order provides supporting equipment, including M88A2 HERCULES recovery vehicles and the M1074 Joint Assault Bridge, as well as a training and logistics package and ammunition. The contract value is approximately $4.75 billion.
Acquisition of indigenously produced advanced engineering robots for bomb disposal units.
OTTOKAR BRZOZA Program
Acquisition of tank destroyers for the anti-tank regiment.
Acquisition of pods for combat aircraft.
Acquisition of unmanned search-strike systems (“loitering munitions”).
Small MUSTANG Program
Acquisition of high-mobility Ford Ranger trucks to replace Honkers via Direct Commercial Sale is in process.
Source: Ministry of National Defense (MoND)
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 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. The 2022 show is scheduled for September 6-9, 2022.
Other important exhibitions in this sector are:
BALT-EXPO - International Maritime Exhibition, held biannually in Gdańsk (northern Poland). The last show took place September 6-8, 2021. The next show will take place in 2023.
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 last show was held April 20-22, 2021. The next show will take place in 2023.
Defence24 DAY – Defense and Security Conference held annually in Warsaw, typically in May. Polish military officials often present modernization plans, and exhibitors are welcome. The last conference was held on May 24-25, 2022.
Additional Resources & Contacts:
- Ministry of National Defense (MoND)
- Armaments Agency (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