Wednesday, August 20, 2008
Rice Signs Missile Deal With Poland
NY Times: August 20, 2008
By NICHOLAS KULISH and TOM RACHMAN
WARSAW — Despite fierce opposition from Moscow, the United States and Poland signed a long-stalled agreement Wednesday to place an American missile defense base on Polish territory.
The Kremlin has leveled sustained criticism against the American plan, characterizing it as a hostile act near the Russian border. But American officials insist that the system will defend against threats from countries like Iran and would not target Russia.
“Missile defense, of course, is aimed at no one,” said Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice who signed the agreement in Warsaw with her Polish counterpart, Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski. “It is in our defense that we do this.”
Why should Russia be concerned by this development?
Well, in the months leading up to the invasion of Iraq, the Bu$h administration scrambled to pull together a "coalition of the willing", and simultaneously negotiated and financed an unprecedented multibillion-dollar arms deal with Poland - a compact that promised to funnel at least $6 billion in U.S. investments into the former Warsaw Pact nation, which has become one of the United States' primary wartime supporters.
On December 27th, 2002 the Polish government decided on to buy rather than lease up to 48 F-16 new fighter aircraft from Lockheed-Martin. The major element in this deal was an offset agreement, between Lockheed-Martin and the Polish government, called "Peace Sky".
The contract was signed on April 18th, 2003, for $3.5 billion, the biggest defense contract by a former Soviet bloc country since the end of the Cold War. The purchase contract also includes spare engines, missiles and bombs as well as technical details and the terms of training for Polish pilots. The aircraft will be built in Fort Worth, Texas, and deliveries started in 2006. which seen an amount of up to $9 billion return in the Polish economy. Major projects included plans by General Motors to expand a plant in Gliwice, Poland, and a pledge by Motorola to invest in a state-of-the-art communication system for Polish public services.
To date, the central European country has received 41 of the 48 F-16s it has on order, and is rapidly increasing its number of qualified pilots with help from seasoned instructors at the 162nd Fighter Wing based at Tucson International Airport.