Polish Armed Forces have deployed, among other assets, Poprad anti-aircraft system and Soła radars, in Lithuania, within the framework of the Tobruq Legacy exercise. The training operation in question also involves troops hailing from the anti-aircraft units of the US or British Armies.
According to the information provided to us by Major Dariusz Kurowski of the Polish General Command of the Armed Forces, Polish Army has deployed, among other assets, ZU-23-2/ZUR systems, Grom MANPADS, Soła radar and Poprad anti-aircraft systems, to take part in the Tobruq Legacy exercise.
Major Kurowski, within the provided statement, placed an emphasis on the fact that almost 80 Polish soldiers are involved in the aforesaid training operation. They have been deployed by the 15th Anti-Aircraft Regiment of the 16th “Pomorska” Mechanized Division and by the 8th Anti-Aircraft Regiment of the 12th “Szczecińska” Mechanized Division.
The primary goal of having the soldiers involved in the operation is to “Perfect the procedures tied to cooperation and enhance the interoperability of the anti-aircraft elements of the allied and partner nations” Mjr Kurowski added that Poprad self-propelled SAM system has not yet been introduced into operational use within the Polish Armed Forces. The system has been deployed within a detachment hailing from the 8th Anti-Aircraft Regiment.
The contract covering the procurement of the Poprad systems has been signed in December 2015, with its value defined as PLN 1.083 billion. On the basis of the agreement mentioned above, the Polish Army is to receive 79 Poprad systems in total, with 2 coming from the implementation lot, and 77 brand-new ones. The deliveries were planned to be finalized in 2021.
Poprad anti-aircraft systems have been destined to be introduced into the structures of division-level anti-aircraft regiments, as well as into the structureS of the selected brigade-level anti-aircraft squadrons. The system is based on Żubr-P vehicle, manufactured by the AMZ-Kutno facility.
The vehicle has been armed with 4 Grom short range missiles, allowing the system to act against targets flying at altitudes of up to 3.5 kilometres, at a range of 5.5 kilometres from the launch point. In a longer run, Poprad system is also going to be integrated with the new Piorun missiles, which would expand the effective ranges and altitudes envelope even further.
Poprad platform makes use of an electro-optical targeting system including thermal-vision and TV cameras coupled with a laser rangefinder. Moreover, the system has been fitted with an IFF solution provided by PIT-RADWAR S.A. The system is capable of autonomously neutralizing airborne threats, meaning that it is able to carry out detection, identification and attacks on its own. Poprad also offers an option of acting as a part of an integrated air-defence system. It may receive targeting solutions from external sources too.
According to the Lithuanian MoD, the portion of the Tobruq Legacy exercise taking place in Lithuania involves US soldiers (with a Patriot anti-aircraft battery) who are working together with troops hailing from Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and the UK. The exercise, also simultaneously held in Romania and in the Czech Republic is to involve soldiers from several countries, which is to enhance interoperability of the air-defence units and air-defence systems from a number of NATO member states.
Lithuania currently operates the Polish Grom MANPADS, which have been, in a gradual manner, delivered on the basis of the relevant agreement signed back in 2014. Beyond that, the Lithuanian Army also utilizes RBS-70 and Stinger systems. Furthermore, Vilnius is also planning to procure NASAMS systems which are expected to be delivered before 2020.