Poland says it expects to complete a deal to buy Patriot missiles from U.S. firm Raytheon by the end of the year, as it looks to bolster its defenses in the face of an increasingly assertive Russia.
Defense Minister Antoni Macierewicz on March 31 said the $7.6 billion deal will "allow us to guarantee the security of the Polish state."
NATO member Warsaw is attempting to overhaul its armed forces by 2023 to counter what Macierewicz referred to as the "growing aggression and a growing threat from the East."
Poland intensified its efforts following Russia’s illegal annexation of Ukraine's Crimea region in 2014, its support of separatists in eastern Ukraine, and its military and political assertiveness in the region that was formerly part of the Soviet Union or within its sphere of influence.
Poland’s deputy defense minister, Bartosz Kownacki, said the missile system would help protect the country against Russian missiles stationed in Kaliningrad, a Russian region on Poland's northeastern border.
Macierewicz told reporters the government and Raytheon had concluded "a very important stage" of discussions on the acquisition of the eight medium-range missile systems.
During negotiations, Warsaw said an earlier price of $12.7 billion for the system was "unacceptable." It said it would pay no more than $7.6 billion.
The contract still requires approval from the U.S. Congress as it involves advanced military technology.
Bill Schmieder, Raytheon's head for Europe, cautioned that it was not yet a done deal.
"It's premature to say that it is all done," he told reporters. "But we have very high hopes that the process will proceed normally."
Also on March 31, Poland’s Defense Ministry said it had signed a $524 million agreement with Boeing to supply three 737-800 airliners -- two new and one used -- for the use of senior Polish state officials.
With reporting by Reuters and AP