Poland on Wednesday signed what officials described as a historic deal to buy an American Patriot air defence system for USD 4.75 billion.
A spokeswoman for the US Department of State, Heather Nauert, issued a statement later in the day (early Thursday morning Polish time) to say that “the U.S. welcomes today’s signing of an agreement concluding Phase I of Poland’s purchase of the Patriot missile defense system.”
Nauert said in her statement that the deal "includes a brand new, state-of-the-art command and control system for Poland’s air and missile defense.”
She said the signing of the agreement "reflects Poland's investment in sharing the burden of collective defense [of NATO countries] through its ongoing defence modernization program, to which Poland devotes more than 20% of its defense budget."
The agreement signed on Wednesday in Warsaw marks “the culmination of commitments made in conjunction with the meeting between Presidents Trump and Duda in Warsaw in July 2017," the statement said.
The US Department of State also said that the deal "creates jobs in both the United States and Poland."
“We look forward to working with Poland to finalize Phase II of this acquisition," Nauert concluded.
Talks on Phase II to begin in April: defence minister
Meanwhile, Poland’s Defence Minister Mariusz Błaszczak said on Thursday that negotiations on implementing Phase II of the deal – part of the country’s wider Wisła (Vistula) air defence programme – would begin in April.
The Patriot system will be in operation in Poland regardless of who governs the country in the future, Błaszczak told public broadcaster Polish Radio.
Błaszczak formally signed the agreement on Wednesday in a ceremony attended by President Andrzej Duda, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki and the US ambassador to Poland, Paul W. Jones.
Poland's alliance with US strengthened: FM
Poland’s Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz has said that the signing of the agreement for the Patriot missile defence system is a success for the Polish government of Mateusz Morawiecki as well as the country’s previous authorities, which he said contributed to the deal.
The country will be safer with the new air defence system, and Poland's alliance with the United States will be strengthened, Czaputowicz told private broadcaster TVN 24 on Wednesday evening.
The first Patriot systems are expected to reach Poland in 2022, and further ones in 2024.
Poland’s defence ministry last Friday signed nearly PLN 950 million (USD 277m, EUR 225m) worth of offset deals with American firms Lockheed Martin Global Inc and the Raytheon Company ahead of the planned purchase of US Patriot air defence systems.
Source: PAP/IAR, TVN 24, Polish Radio