Poland Gets US Greenlight for $1.2B Aerostat, Radar Acquisition

Poland has been cleared to procure reconnaissance aerostat and radar systems from the US in a potential $1.2-billion deal.

The US State Department said Wednesday that Warsaw had requested an undisclosed number of Airspace and Surface Radar Reconnaissance (ASRR) aerostat systems, which are essentially balloon-type surveillance assets.

Along with these is a request for communications equipment, program management support, spare and repair parts, and personnel training services.

The European nation also wants airborne early warning radars with identification friend-or-foe capability, electronic sensor systems, and ground control systems.

The US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) said it had notified Congress about the possible sale.

If finalized, the principal contractors will be Raytheon, ELTA North America, Columbia-based TCOM, and QinetiQ subsidiary Avantus Federal.


Defense Against Regional Threats

The DSCA said the sale would help improve Poland’s capability to meet the threats of enemy air and ground weapon systems.

It would also enable the country to increase its contributions to NATO operations, especially amid the growing threats in the region.

Warsaw has been keeping an eye on the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine and is preparing for a possible escalation of conflict.

For the US government, the potential sale will support its foreign policy goals as it will bolster the security of a NATO ally that is a “force for political stability and economic progress in Europe.”

Military Applications

Sometimes referred to as “barrage balloons,” aerostats are large, helium-filled systems used to support long-range surveillance, reconnaissance, and threat detection.

They are lighter than air and often tethered to the ground to serve as a defensive measure against low-flying enemy aircraft.

Raytheon previously started an aerostat program known as the Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Defense Elevated Netted Sensor System, but funding was cut due to controversy.

In 2015, an unmanned surveillance blimp broke loose from its ground tether in Maryland, hitting power lines across Pennsylvania and causing several large power outages.

Raytheon's aerostat
Raytheon’s aerostat system called Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Defense Elevated Sensor System during its launch. Photo: Senior Airman Tiffany DeNault/US Air Force

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