A senior Polish military official has announced that the nation’s military may seek more naval strike missiles to establish a third coastal squadron along the Baltic Sea, Defense News reported Friday. Poland, a NATO member that shares an approximately 120-mile northern border with Russia’s Baltic exclave of Kaliningrad, has expressed serious concern over increased Russian military activity in its vicinity.
Russia has recently expanded the ballistic capability of its Baltic fleet after NATO announced its biggest military buildup near the international military alliance’s Russian borders since the Cold War. Now Poland has considered its own need for reinforcements by adding a third naval missile strike squadron, utilizing military weaponry from Norwegian defense company Kongsberg, according to Secretary of State Bartosz Kownacki of Poland’s Ministry of Defense. He also noted the shortcomings that would need to be addressed prior to expanding the country’s missile defense system.
“We are considering this, but please note that our current reconnaissance capability is insufficient. This is a significant issue. Such a squadron has a strike range of about 200 [kilometers], but our radars have a range that is considerably shorter,” Kownacki told local daily Dziennik Gazeta Prawna.
“There are several solutions that could be used. We could consider to ensure reconnaissance capabilities with the use of drones, and in the future, also through merging [the naval strike missiles] with the Wisla [medium-range air-and-missile defense] system,” he added.
Kownacki also expressed interest in adding to the country’s submarine fleet. He stated that the ministry of defense was prepared to purchase three submarines for Poland’s navy in 2017 and that the deal would likely be a joint venture with another ally, possibly Norway, Sweden or Germany.
Kaliningrad, Russia’s only Baltic territory, has been a focal point for recent tensions between the country and the West. European countries such as Finland and Estonia have accused Russia of violating their airspace and Russia has defended its heavy military activity in the area by claiming that NATO uses sabre-rattling techniques that threaten Russian defenses. Last month, Russia moved nuclear-capable missiles to Kaliningrad. Since then, the U.S. has urged its NATO allies to name Poland as the destination for one of the alliance’s strategical battle groups.