(Adds defence minister's comments)
By Lidia Kelly
WARSAW Dec 9 Poland may be granted U.S.
government export approval to buy eight Patriot missile defence
systems from Raytheon Co within the next few months, a
senior Raytheon official told a Polish news agency on Friday.
NATO member Poland has sped up efforts to overhaul its
military following Russia's annexation of Ukraine's Crimea
peninsula and Moscow's renewed military and political
assertiveness in the region.
Defence Minister Antoni Macierewicz said on Friday Russian
unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) had repeatedly violated Poland's
airspace. The Rzeczpospolita daily, citing border guard
documents, said Russia has sent its drones over Poland from the
Kaliningrad Region at least four times this year.
"Unfortunately, we have to say that threats associated with
(Russian) drones are nothing new, it is a process that we have
observed throughout the year," PAP news agency cited Macierewicz
Poland asked Washington in September for approval to buy the
systems, aiming to close a $5 billion deal that is central to a
thorough modernisation of its armed forces by 2023. As advanced
military technology, special permission must be obtained from
the U.S. government for purchase.
"Concrete decisions are expected within the next few months,"
John Baird, vice president of Raytheon Poland programmes, told
the private Newseria Biznes agency.
Poland is also in talks with Lockhead Martin's MEADS
joint venture regarding the acquisition of Medium Extended Air
Defense Systems (MEADS).
(Writing by Lidia Kelly; editing by Ralph Boulton)