Russian Ambassador to NATO Alexander Grushko said that Moscow is closely monitoring Warsaw’s plans to buy US air-to-surface missiles, a significant new factor which Grushko said “we are taking into account in our military planning.”
Lockheed Martin is the prime contractor in the $225 million deal, which stipulates that the American aerospace company supply 70 Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile Extended Range (JASSM-ER) missiles for Polish F-16 fighter jets.
In an interview with Sputnik Poland, retired Polish Vice Admiral Marek Toczek warned of the far-reaching consequences of Warsaw buying the US JASSM-ER missiles.
“This step will further tighten the spiral of mistrust, strengthen unnecessary irritation and provoke a conflict. Unfortunately, Poland’s ruling Law and Justice Party is pursuing a policy that is prompting a huge negative reaction,” he said.
“All this will certainly worsen Russian-Polish ties, and there is nothing surprising in the fact that Moscow will take the appropriate steps to neutralize the potential of these missiles,” he added.
He added that the purchase of the US missiles by Warsaw will also ride roughshod over the interests of ordinary Poles and the national interests of the entire nation.
Toczhek was echoed by Mikhail Khodoryonok, a military expert from the Russian news website Gazeta.ru, who described Warsaw’s plans to buy the US JASSM-ER missiles as a serious challenge to Russia.
“Poland’s purchase of missiles of this type will allow the Polish Air Force to significantly increase its combat capability in terms of destroying ground targets. It also poses a threat to all of our facilities based within [striking distance of] these missiles. So Russia should respond in kind to Poland’s move,” Khodoryonok said, referring to Russian missile defense systems.
The JASSM-ER is an advanced version of the AGM-158A cruise missile and can hit targets at a distance of up to 1,000 kilometers, compared to the 370 kilometers of the original JASSM.
Khodoryonok called the JASSM-ER as a formidable weapon, which he described as a radar-evading missile which can be installed on F-15 fighter jets and which are worth 850,000 dollars each.