The Polish announcement of the possible sale to Poland of two used Australian Adelaide-class frigates (based on the US Oliver Hazard Perry-class) comes as a pleasant surprise.
The two frigates that might be sold to Poland, logically would be the two youngest Adelaides (that were built in Williamstown dockyard, Victoria, Australia (1985-1992)). They are:
Both have many types of armament including Standard SM-2 Block IIIA missiles from Mk 41 VLS launchers.
As the Adelaides are heavily based on a US design and subsequent upgrades the future, possible sale would presumably have US approval.
Poland is an especially valued US NATO ally - as Poland shares borders with:
- the Russian naval-air-army base enclave of Kaliningrad (to Poland’s north - see map below), and
- Belarus which hosts many Russian military forces (to the east of Poland)
Poland also feels vulnerable on its Baltic coast from Russia’s Baltic fleet, from Russian missiles, jets and the ex-Red-now-Putin Army.
Since 2000 Poland has already been operating two former Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigates:
- ORP Generał Kazimierz Pułaski (272), and
- ORP Generał Tadeusz Kościuszko (273)
Launched in 1978 and 1979 respectively and still operational.
These two Polish frigates would be compatible with the two Australian Adelaides in many ways, but they appear to have far fewer weapon and sensor upgrades than the Adelaides.
Poland sees the frigates as integral parts of Baltic defense and its strategy of long range power projection under NATO structures.
Also the two to four frigates might provide ballistic missile defense (BMD) using Polish platforms - meaning Poland would not be totally dependent on US provision of BMD. Naturally an unlikely Iranian missile threat is advertised – not the more obvious threat from Putin's missile rattling.
“Poland eyes frigates from Australia, submarines”
WARSAW, Poland — Poland may purchase two Adelaide-class frigates, based on the Oliver Hazard Perry-class vessel, from Australia for its Navy, said Michal Jach, the chairman of the Polish parliament’s National Defence Committee.
“The acquisition of used Adelaide frigates from Australia would represent a major upgrade for Poland, it would raise the combat capability of our Navy,” Jach said at the Safety Forum 2017 conference in Szczecin, Poland, as reported by local news agency PAP. “These units were modernized and equipped with modern weapons and systems several years ago. After a good negotiation, we will have to pay several hundred million zloty for this. A fully equipped frigate is worth about U.S. $700 million...”
SEE WHOLE DEFENSENEWS ARTICLE.
See much larger/more readable image. Some of the upgrades to the Adelaide-class frigates. These include Mk 41 VLS which presumably could take SM-3 BMD missiles.
(Diagram courtesy Defense Industry Daily).
Poland has a long, sad history of being constantly under threat of invasion - then actually invaded. Russia remains the greatest ongoing threat (conventional and nuclear). Kaliningrad functions as the headquarters of the Russia's Baltic Fleet, ringed by Chernyakhovsk (air base), Donskoye (air base) and Kaliningrad Chkalovsk (naval air base) and hosts powerful Russian ground forces.
Also making Poland nervous is Belarus. In Belarus Russia seems to be adding to the already powerful Russian military forces that Belarus hosts.