170906 0025th MSPO stsarted in Kielce (Poland) and is held from 5 to 8 September, 2017. The year that has passed since the MSPO 2016 and Weapons & Security 2016 exhibitions in respectively Poland and Ukraine was quite tense and busy year in defense-industrial production and technology development cooperation between Ukraine and Poland. Over that time, there has been much talk about bilateral defense-industrial cooperation, and the prospects of achieving synergy through partnership have become even more tempting.

 

Active Negotiations

 

Issues of Ukrainian-Polish cooperation in the security and defense realms were high on the agenda of lots of related events held since then.

 

Ukraine-Poland defense-industrial cooperation prospects came under discussion at platforms such as the 10th Europe-Ukraine Forum at Rzeszow, Poland (January 27-28, 2017), the Industrial Defense and Energy Summit - Europe Meets Ukraine - 2017 at Warsaw (April 20, 2017), the Ukrainian Defense and Security Forum at Kyiv (April 27, 2017); and Seminar on Ukraine’s Defense Industry Reform at Kyiv (June 20, 2017).

 

On a parallel track, work is underway at the level of the two countries’ military and defense-industrial establishments. In December 2016, Defense Ministers Stepan Poltorak of Ukraine and Antoni Macierewicz of Poland signed a general cooperation agreement on defense, in a ceremony attended by the Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and Polish Presidnet Andrzej Duda. The agreement envisages a significant increase in cooperation in 24 areas of mutual interest. During the year reviewed, there were reciprocal visits between MoD officials of the two countries, and, in late June 2017, Stepan Poltorak and Antoni Macierewicz met again at a meeting of NATO Defense Ministers at NATO headquarters in Brussels to discuss how to strengthen and diversify collaboration between the two defense establishments.

 

In December 2016, Defense Ministers Stepan Poltorak of Ukraine and Antoni Macierewicz of Poland signed a general cooperation agreement on defense, envisaging a significant increase in cooperation in 24 areas of mutual interest

 

At the defense-industrial level, contacts were equally intensive. The work continued to search for new and better ways and methods of collaboration, and the two parties were advertising and demonstrating their capabilities to each other.  

 

Particularly in December 2016, an official Ukrainian team visited Huta Stali Jakosciowych S.A., a Polish maker of high-quality armor steel Ukraine needs so much to expand and increase its domestic armored vehicles production.

 

During the international Air Fair 2017 aviation exhibition held on May 26-27 at the Military Aircraft Works No 2 in Bygdoszcz, Poland, Ukroboronprom’s aviation related businesses exhibited their proposed initiatives that might be of interest to Polish counterparts and, also, in terms of potential collaborations on third country markets. Ukrainian exhibitors at Air Fair 2017 demonstrated their products in a joint pavilion organized by state-run Progres firm.

 

There was also intensive work going on between Ukroboronprom and the Ministry of National Defense of Poland that is officially charged to supervise the Polish defense industry. Milestone meetings took place in March 2017 in Warsaw and in June 2017 in Kyiv. The negotiations headed by Secretary of State at the Polish Ministry of Defense, Bartosz Kownacki, and CEO of Ukroboronprom, Roman Romanov were attended by officials of the leading Polish defense contractors already engaged in collaborative projects with Ukroboronprom. The latter is now searching for new partners from among Polish companies to assist in the development of advanced armaments technologies, especially air defense systems and military armored equipment.

 

Interim Outputs

Such an intensive work could not but yield certain outputs, although it’s too early to talk about specific completed projects.

 

In December 2016, Ukroboronprom and Poland’s private-sector defense supplier WB Electronics S.A. signed collaboration in developing new air defense and SAM technologies. This may be about co-development of a prototype short-range air defense system under the Narew program. A relevant project, currently known as R-27 ADS (Air Defense System), has been developed by Kyiv-based JSHC Artem.

 

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The prototype short-range R-27 ADS air defense system developed by Kyiv-based JSHC Artem under Poland’s Narew program

 

As proposed by the Ukrainian party, the Polish share in the R-27 ADS project might include the surveillance radar, missile guidance radar, mobile missile launcher platform, passive optronic target tracking and missile guidance system, combat control system, and intra system communications.

 

It is envisaged that Polish partners Polską Grupą Zbrojeniową and WB Electronics S.A. will assist in R&D, while Polską Grupa Zbrojeniową, WB Electronics and JSHC Artem will commence low rate initial production in the summer of 2018 so the system is ready for military acceptance tests in November 2018, with full rate production scheduled for November 2019.

 

On June 26, 2017 in Poland, two agreements were signed between Ukroboronprom’s Ukrinmash and PGZ S.A.’s (Polska Zbrojeniowa Group) PCO S.A.

 

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On June 26, 2017 in Poland, two agreements were signed between Ukroboronprom’s Ukrinmash and Polska Grupa Zbrojeniowa’s PCO S.A.

/Photo courtesy of PCO S.A.

 

One deal includes the supply of PCO S.A.-produced optical components to state-run Zhytomyr Armored Vehicles Plant, while the other covers the delivery to Zhytomyr Armored Vehicles Plant of optronic devices for integration with an armored combat vehicle upgrade package. 

 

Polish partners are going to provide 30+ advanced optics kits to equip the Ukrainian military’s armored vehicles. Relevant contract from Ukraine’s Defense Ministry includes optical sights, day/night surveillance devices, and periscopes. As this deal has been signed, there should be a strong expectation that the much talked about project proposed by Poland’s PCO S.A. to establish an armored combat vehicles modernization center in Ukraine will be brought to fruition in the near future.

 

WB Electronics and Ukroboronprom have also been closely collaborating in the development and production of new UAS technologies. Ukroboronprom’s companies have worked closely with Huta Stalova Wola S.A. in developing and manufacturing mortar and artillery systems, and with Bumar Labedy S.A. in upgrading/updating powerplants of tanks operated by the Republic of Poland Armed Forces. Collaborative development of a guided artillery projectile and a 120mm command-detonated mine for the Polish armed forces marks an important milestone in bilateral defense-industrial cooperation between Ukraine and Poland.

 

Generally, collaboration between Ukroboronprom and its Polish partners encompasses supplies of components and replacement parts, and the provision of aircraft MRO services, as well as supplies of parts and components of radar equipment. Recent years have seen an increase in Polish defense exports, especially combat vehicle armor products to Ukraine.

 

Ukrainian private-sector defense industries have been as active as their state-run peers in establishing useful ties with their Polish counterparts. Highly illustrative is already long-term, multi-field partnership between Ukraine’s PJSC Chernihiv Radio Equipment Factory (otherwise known as PJSC CheZaRa) and Poland’s WB Electronics S.A. Recent collaborations include the integrated “Sokil” reconnaissance & attack UAV system developed and produced for Ukraine’s Armed Forces. Sokil consists of two UAVs (the Fly Eye UAV that is already in service with Ukraine’s Armed Forces, and the Warmate combat drone developed and built by WB Electronics) integrated with a shared ground control station.

 

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Highly illustrative is already long-term, multi-field partnership between Ukraine’s PJSC CheZaRa and Poland’s WB Electronics S.A., with recent collaborations including the integrated “Sokil” reconnaissance & attack UAV system

 

The Potential of Mutual Benefit

 

There is a very great potential held in expanding mutually beneficial cooperation between Polish and Ukrainian defense industries. Further cooperation could proceed along the following promising directions among others:

 - development and production of optical, optronic and electronic systems for various purposes, especially under broader weapons development programs;

- development and production of a self-propelled 152mm/155mm artillery system;

- development and production of a self-propelled mortar system;

- development and production of a man-portable ATGW system;

- shared production of precision munitions;

- development and production of missile systems for various purposes;

- modernization of existing and development of new air defense systems;

- development of new and modernization of legacy radar systems, and EW/ECM systems;

- collaboration on a maritime patrol aircraft being developed for the Republic of Poland Armed Forces;

- development of a new helicopter using technical solutions incorporated in Ukraine’s MSB-6 Ataman and Poland’s W-3 Sokol multipurpose helicopter technologies;

- development of new and improvement of existing UAS technologies, including combat drones;

- post-Soviet-era weapons modernization to NATO compliance.

 

Modernization of helicopters (most particularly those of the Mi-24/35-series) and related systems to NATO compliance (which is a highly relevant issue for the Polish Armed Forces) holds a substantial promise for bilateral collaboration. This collaboration could feed in Ukraine’s innovative engineering solutions and extensive expertise and experience with modernizing technologies in this specific area, and it could benefit further from the ready availability of MRO capabilities and production infrastructures for most of the requisite replacement parts and components. Ukraine -- who has set itself ambitious goals of developing a fully indigenous helicopter and ensuring self-sufficiency in the production of rotary-wing aircraft – has much to offer its partner. Collaboration in upgrading/updating the two countries’ legacy helicopter fleets could produce significant enhancements in performance and combat effectiveness of their respective army aviation forces, and, also, produce a new helicopter of the shared Ukrainian-Polish origin.

 

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Polish company PCO S.A. is interested in developing collaborations with Ukrainian R&D and production companies / Photo courtesy of PCO S.A.

 

The aforementioned potentialities for cooperation, if used to their full capacity, could contribute greatly to strengthening homeland defense capabilities of Ukraine and Poland, and could also help them boost their presence in the global arms export market. In particular, there is a great potential held in bilateral projects for modernization of Soviet-built military equipment inventories (especially tanks, infantry fighting vehicles, and armored personnel carriers) of third countries’ armed forces.

 

Even better viable prospects are here for collaboration between specific Ukrainian and Polish industries in developing and producing most promising product categories. Poland’s PCO S.A., for instance, is seeking to expand and diversify its cooperation with a number of Ukrainian R&D and production companies, among them Izyum Instrument Factory (the Polish partner is interested in purchasing optical glasses and materials; co-developing optical devices for supply to Ukraine’s domestic market and, also, to third-country markets; collaborative development of software programs for command and control applications etc), and state-run Photoprylad company (co-development of instrument products for Ukraine’s domestic market and for third-country markets, the setting up of assembly lines for Polish-designed instrument products targeted at third-country markets etc). This same Polish company is seeking partnerships with Ukrainian companies engaged with the development and production of armored military vehicles, aircraft and related systems, and with the provision of aircraft MRO services.

 

Both in Poland and Ukraine, there is an even greater number of companies who well realize the emerging potentialities, but have as yet failed to formulate their proposals for potential partners, mainly due to lack of knowledge of the latter’s capabilities.

 

The real work carried out by the Ukrainian and Polish parties during the period under review has revealed a great number of areas of mutual interest and those needing focused, coordinated attention. There is an almost unlimited synergy potential held out by growing defense-industrial cooperation between Ukraine and Poland.

 

Meanwhile, new initiatives of potential interest to one of the partners or both are emerging almost day by day. This begs the need for robust lines of communication between the partners - in order to yield more from coordinated action and to enhance the synergy effect.

 

Research reviews suggest that – given the differing approaches used by Ukraine and Poland in organizing and managing their respective defense industries, and in addressing their homeland defense deficiencies – a useful step for better Party-to-Party coordination would be to reciprocally establish specialized representative offices with mixed representations of military and defense-industrial communities. These offices could be tasked to do practical research on the possibilities and opportunities for enhanced cooperation and to provide support to collaborative projects at the project assessment and on-site implementation stages.

 

As a result of the above considerations, it could be stated, that there are now all the preconditions in place for military technology cooperation between Ukraine and Poland to grow in scope and to become more diversified, and for the issues arising in this process to be solved by way of consensus.

 

Valeri RIABYKH

 

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