Poland is being targeted by British arms firms to win orders worth up to £1.4bn in the run-up to the former Soviet bloc state joining Nato in April.
Polish aerospace and defence firms were in Britain this week to meet the Government and UK firms which are hunting Polish defence contracts.
Trade minister Brian Wilson said that with annual growth rates of over 5%, ‘Poland has become a star among emerging markets’.
He was speaking at the launch of a CBI trade promotion campaign, which over the next year will also target Hungary and the Czech Republic, which are also joining Nato in April.
In the Polish market, British Aerospace is chasing a large order for the Gripen fighter, which it is marketing with Sweden’s Saab. BAe also hopes for orders for its Hawk trainer, as Poland already builds parts for BAe.
Marconi Electronic Systems’ VSEL subsidiary hopes to secure a Polish Army order for self-propelled howitzers and is offering its 155mm AS90.
Thomson Marconi Sonar this week revealed it is chasing Polish Navy orders for sonars for Polish corvettes and minehunters. EDS, Meggitt and Apollo Metals are also seeking contracts.
Poland will spend £1.4bn by 2003 to upgrade its forces to Nato standards, Polish defence minister Janusz Onyskiewicz said last July. The fighter project will have special funding separate from the defence budget, in which procurement spending will rise from 16% of the total in 1997 to 37% in 2012.
Polish industry is also in the running for orders from the MoD. Poland’s Obrum, in partnership with Marconi Electronic Systems, has won a one-year MoD feasibility study for its ‘Future Engineer Tank’, and is competing with Vickers and Alvis for the FET order.
The UK Defence Export Services Organisation this week asked Polish industry to encourage its government to sign a long-awaited memorandum of understanding on defence cooperation.