The Polish draft budget for FY24 released by the Ministry of Finance indicates a sharp year-on-year increase for the country’s defense budget. The proposed earmark reflects a rise from the current allocation of PLN97.445 billion ($23.63 billion) to PLN113.349 billion ($27.5 billion), which would mark a 16.3 percent hike.
Within the proposed defense budget is a large earmark of PLN49.3 billion ($11.96 billion) for capitalization, including the purchase of new equipment and military infrastructure investment. This represents 43.5 percent of the total proposed allocation and would place Poland atop European nations in terms of the percentage of the total topline budget devoted to capitalization.
There is also a special purpose reserve fund pursuant to a Council of Ministers resolution (“Equipping the Armed Forces of the Republic of Poland with Main Battle Tanks” program) totaling PLN4.8 billion ($1.16 billion). This money is separate from the topline defense budget, but if included would bring planned defense expenditures for FY24 up to PLN118.149 billion ($28.65 billion). This money will cover the costs of a 116-unit second-batch purchase of Abrams main battle tanks (M1A1 configuration) destined for service with the 18th Mechanized Division of the Polish Land Forces.
There is also potential for military-related spending to grow up to an additional PLN40 billion ($9.7 billion) through funding derived from the Armed Forces Support Fund, which would primarily finance hardware acquired in collaboration with South Korea, such as the FA-50/FA-50PLN light combat aircraft, K2/K2PL main battle tanks, K9A1/K9PL self-propelled howitzers, and K239 Chunmoo (Homar-K) multiple launch rocket systems (MLRS). These acquisitions were all agreed upon in a series of industrial collaboration and military procurement agreements reached with Seoul in 2022.
Altogether, should this funding be acted upon in total, Poland’s defense expenditure for 2024 would rise to PLN158.149 billion ($38.36 billion).
Poland's Total 2024 Defense Spending to Exceed $38 Billion: Reporthttps://t.co/6dDSYRpWY2
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For 2023, Poland’s defense budget amounts to 2.9 percent of GDP, with the FY24 draft figure equivalent to 3 percent of planned GDP for next year. This would meet an initial benchmark goal laid out by Polish Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak days after Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022.
Since that time Poland’s government has gone further, pushing for a topline defense budget of 4 percent of GDP in 2024, which would then grow to as high as 5 percent of GDP.
The additional monies have enabled Polish defense planners to accelerate modernization projects ahead of previously laid-out timelines, allowing for creation of a strong military deterrent against potential Russian encroachments. Every domain of the prospective battlespace – air, land, sea, and cyberspace – is slated for investment under Poland’s Technical Modernization Plan covering planned acquisitions through 2035.
Under the Technical Modernization Plan, the investment outlay for modernization of the Polish armed forces was set at up to PLN524 billion ($127 billion), with over PLN24 billion ($5.82 billion in 2023 figures) being spent from 2021 through 2025. However, following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, much of this plan was accelerated – with over PLN30 billion ($6.22 billion) spent in 2022 alone.
The stream of bills are now coming due on the flurry of procurements contracted for by Poland in recent years. These range from a $4.6 billion purchase of 32 Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II combat in 2020 to an estimated $12 billion proposed Foreign Military Sale (FMS) of 96 AH-64E Apache attack helicopters cleared by the U.S. State Department on August 21, plus many others.
Therefore, the rise in annual defense investment – coupled with supplemental funding – ensures the steady inflow of advanced equipment deemed necessary by government officials and security planners.
Poland’s steady increases in military-related spending – marked by a significant hike following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2022 – already bring it up to the level of fifth-largest defense budget in Europe, according to Forecast International’s “The Military Market for Europe” year-end analysis for 2023.
Forecast International’s projection models for 2024 indicate Poland rising to the level of fourth-largest defense spender in Europe, surpassing Italy but remaining well behind Britain, Germany, and France. In terms of global expenditure Poland ranked 19th in Forecast International’s annual Global Defense Spending Snapshot 2023 covering the year 2022, based on U.S. dollar figures.
Per the latest available data, that ranking is set to rise to 15th in 2023, right behind Brazil and ahead of Italy, in the Forecast global spending rankings.