Codename Barbara. Will unusual aircraft appear in the Polish sky? “They will strengthen security in the east”

Codename Barbara.  Will unusual aircraft appear in the Polish sky?  "They will strengthen security in the east"

On February 7, the US Department of State announced the approval of the Polish request for proposals regarding the possibility of purchasing reconnaissance aerostats, codenamed Barbara. Thus, the project initiated many years ago is approaching implementation, the aim of which is to strengthen the security level of Poland's eastern border.

As indicated by the American documentation presented when the export application was approved and the matter was referred for further consideration by the United States Congress (which has 30 days for a possible veto), Poland is interested in purchasing four aerostats equipped with air surveillance radar stations, necessary electronic equipment, and ground command posts. and inspection, spare parts packages with the necessary diagnostic devices, as well as training and logistic support.

The total value was estimated at a maximum amount of USD 1.2 billion – in accordance with many years of tradition, the actual value will depend on negotiations before concluding an intergovernmental agreement between the governments of Poland and the United States. Interestingly, as discussed below, the Department of State does not indicate the main contractor of the contract.

As the American authorities emphasize, at the current stage of the program there is no information regarding a potential offset.

The Barbara program, as the code name for the purchase of aerostats by the Ministry of National Defense, appeared in the public space in May last year, when the then Minister of Defense Mariusz Błaszczak announced that a formal request for proposals had been sent to Washington in the above matter. As it was emphasized at the time, the system is to increase the capabilities of early warning against air threats – it will complement the network of ground radar stations (whose capabilities are limited by the curvature of the Earth), as well as Saab 340 early warning and command aircraft equipped with Erieye radars (the delivery of the first one from Sweden is expected in first quarter of this year).

In May, the Armament Agency indicated that the request to the United States was the result of analyzes that showed that there were no entities in Poland that could fulfill this type of order. Interestingly, the first attempts at purchase took place already in 2017, when the (then) Armament Inspectorate invited potential contractors to a technical dialogue in the above-mentioned area.

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