Following the Slovak government’s approval today, the Slovak Ministry of Defence (MoD) can enter into negotiations to secure the first stage acquisition of air defence (AD) systems. In doing so, the MOD is acting on the recommendations of MOD subject matter experts (SMEs) for the very short-range (VSHORAD) systems. The MOD has been mandated to start negotiations with the Government of the Republic of Poland to prepare the G2G documents necessary to procure 36 Polish-made Piorun MANPAD sets. The Piorun (Thunderbolt) is a Polish man-portable air-defense (MANPAD) system, designed to destroy low-flying aircraft, airplanes, helicopters and unmanned aerial vehicles. The draft contract documents will be submitted to the government for approval before signing.
In a statement, Defence Minister Martin Sklenár said: “I want to thank the Cabinet for taking a responsible decision – a step necessary to meet the long-term Air Defence Capability requirements of the Slovak Armed Forces, while the identified proposals fully respect economic considerations in procurement. These are, undoubtedly, the most advantageous solutions that will clearly serve the interest of protecting our homeland from aerial threats.”
If talks with the selected states are unsuccessful, the MOD will open negotiations with the countries next on the list according to the final bidders’ ranking. After completing the bid evaluation process for the VSHORAD, a team of MOD experts proposed the best solutions to Slovakia’s Air Defence Capability, taking account of all relevant criteria such as technical capabilities, total procurement price, integrated logistical support services, service life costs, schedule of delivery, and training of operators. The VSHORAD is set to be delivered into service with the Slovak Armed Forces from 2024 to 2027.
The Piorun MANPAD is a deep modernization of the PPZR Grom set, with an alternative designation of Grom-M. The man-portable air-defense system is produced by the Mesko company and was created as a result of the GROM system modernization carried out in 2010–15. 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 for use in night conditions. The missiles are used not only by Poprad, but also by anti-aircraft missile and artillery system PSR-A Pilica.