May 7, 2015:
Poland has decided to buy eight batteries of the American Patriot anti-aircraft missile system. The last of these will enter service in 2025. Each Patriot battery is manned by about a hundred troops, and each contains a radar and four launchers. A battery can fire two types of Patriot missile. The more expensive (about $4 million each) PAC 3 missile is smaller than the anti-aircraft version (PAC 2). Thus a Patriot launcher can hold sixteen PAC 3 missiles, versus four PAC 2s. A PAC 2 missile weighs about a ton, a PAC 3 weighs about a third of that. The PAC 3 has a shorter range (about 20 kilometers) versus 160 kilometers for the PAC 2 anti-aircraft version used against low flying UAVs. Given this long range one Patriot battery can cover more than 200 kilometers of land and coastal borders. Patriot can also take down cruise missiles as well, giving Poland some protection against just about everything the Russians have to throw at them.
The selection process has been going on for nearly a decade, with systems from France, Israel and the United States being the leading contenders. It is believed that Patriot won because it has the most impressive combat record and when the U.S. recently sent Patriot batteries to help defend Poland the visit included letting Polish officers and troops watch the operation of the operation of the Patriot up close.
Poland has not yet selected who to buy eleven batteries of shorter range (under 50 kilometers) missiles from. Finalists for this contract are from France, Germany, Israel and the United States.