Coastal Defence Receives Boost as Poland and Ukraine Collaborate

NSM Launch Truck Kongsberg

While defence against aerial threats is receiving principal media attention efforts to counter other potential threats, particularly attacks from the sea, are being given renewed priority.

Recognizing the critical importance of securing their littorals from Russian intrusion Poland and Ukraine have reportedly embarked on a collaboration to significantly enhance their coastal defines.

The Polish Defence Forces currently possesses two fully equipped Coastal Missile Squadrons belonging to the Polish Navy’s Maritime Missile Unit (MJR – Morska Jednostka Rakietowa).

In late May 2023 it was determined that the Ministry of Defence was preparing an order for additional NSM units. This order would have a value of around PLN 3 billion. This would increase the two batteries of truck mounted Kongsberg NSMs (Naval Strike Missile) with the acquisition allowing for a possible third battery. This battery would use the Block 1A missile with increased range and improved radar. It has subsequently been understood that Ukraine is also negotiating to receive coastal defence NSMs from Poland. Unofficially this may comprise one complete battery of three launch platforms.

NSM Polish firing A Naval Strike Missile (NSM) Andøya training ground in Norway in May 2016.
Kongsberg NSMs (Naval Strike Missile).

The current Polish Coastal Defence NSMs are Block 1 missiles with a range of over 200 km traveling a supersonic .93 Mach speed using turbo-jet propulsion. It has a low-radar signature and can fly at low altitude using terrain following.

The NSM has a programable route with onboard navigation and on-route point confirmation using inertial and GPS guidance. It is capable of mid-course updating and selection of various attack profiles. Target acquisition and final guidance includes refined recognition and identification with infrared final homing. It has a titanium cased penetrating blast and controlled fragmentation 120 kg warhead capable of addressing ships or land targets.

A Polish battery consists of a Battery Command Vehicle, three Missile Launch Vehicles, a Mobile Communication Centre and a Mobile Radar Vehicle with TRS-15C Odra-C 3D radar all using the Jelcz chassis. Each launch vehicle contains 4 missiles.

Ukraine’s NSMs appear to be being provided from existing Polish system stocks. Funds are being provided from either Ukraine or the European Union. Fielding of the NSMs will provide Ukraine an improved Black Sea coast defence capability which has previously relied upon Neptune and Harpoon missiles which may be both in limited supply (if any are available at all) and are less capable.

As a fifth-generation missile system NSM offers a state-of-the-art off-shore anti-ship and precision fixed land target engagement capability that can both deter the Russian Navy and strike high-value assets as distant as Sevastopol itself. Refurbishment of NSM stocks will be facilitated by its active production. The NSM is also produced by Raytheon under an agreement with Kongsberg. Land based NSMs are also in service with the US Marines, Latvia, and Romania and equip warships of not only the US and Norwegian Navy but with eleven other Navies committed to its introduction.

by Stephen W. Miller