Norwegian Army Buys Polish Piorun Man-portable Air Defence Systems (MANPADS)
Norwegian Army Buys Polish Piorun Man-portable Air Defence Systems (MANPADS)

Norwegian Army Buys Polish Piorun Man-portable Air Defence Systems (MANPADS)

The Norwegian Defence Materiel Agency (NDMA) signed a contract with the Polish company Mesko S.A. which is part of the Polish Armaments Group, for Piorun man-portable air defence systems (MANPADS). The NOK 350 million ($35 million) contract was signed on November 29 in Oslo. The contract on behalf of Mesko S.A. was signed by the vice-president of the company, Przemyslaw Kowalczuk. The new weapons are to be used by the Norwegian Army, with deliveries starting as early as 2023. The new Piorun MANPADS will cover the lowest level, being able to fire heat-seeking missiles at drones, helicopters, and aircraft from ground level up to altitudes of 4,000 meters. NDMA plans to deliver several new of air defense systems to the Norwegian Armed Forces to help defend against air threats at various altitudes and ranges.

“Piorun will supplement the Army’s new tactical air defenses and the Air Force’s NASAMS and F-35 combat aircraft. Along with other capabilities in the Norwegian Armed Forces, Piorun will serve as a deterrent to any future opponent who will now have to deal with a wide range of defensive systems. We therefore consider this an important addition to our overall capabilities,” Gro Jære, director general of the NDMA said.

“This is the first time that Norway will operate this type of air defense systems, and the Norwegian Armed Forces will therefore receive an important capability that they have previously not had in their inventory. This is also the first time we have signed a major contract with Polish defense industry, reflecting positive developments in Norwegian-Polish defense cooperation,” Norwegian minister of defence Bjørn Arild Gram said.

Piorun Man-portable Air Defence Systems (MANPADS). (Photo by Mesko S.A.)

The Piorun (meaning “thunderbolt” in Polish) is a man-portable air-defense system of Polish production, designed to destroy low-flying aircraft, airplanes, helicopters and unmanned aerial vehicles. The set is a deep modernization of the PPZR Grom set, based on the Soviet-made 9K38 Igla (SA-18 Grail), therefore the second designation of the missile is Grom-M. As part of the modernization, the effectiveness of the homing warhead was significantly improved by increasing the sensitivity of detection, which increased the distance at which the missile is able to target and hit the target, increased resistance to interference was obtained, a proximity fuze was used, an access authorization system and the set for fire was adapted in night conditions. The system weighs just under 20 kilograms and has a range of 6.5 km at altitudes of up to 6 km.

Piorun has been in service with the Polish armed forces since 2017. This is the third export success for the system in a little over two months, as Estonia placed a contract for 100 launchers and 300 missiles in September this year. Undisclosed number ordered by the US Department of Defense.in 2022. The US Government order may eventually amount to several hundred MANPADS systems. Before that, the US had also acquired a certain number of the Polish Grom MANPADS, delivered in 2016 and 2018-2019. In 2022, Poland announced the rapid supply of Ukraine with Pioruns during the 2021–2022 Russo-Ukrainian crisis. During the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Armed Forces of Ukraine alleged that a number of Russian jet fighters (Su-34, Su-25) and helicopters (Mi-24, Ka-52) were shot down with Piorun missiles.