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Poland announces $25B defense spending spree

By LEANDER SCHAERLAECKENS, UPI Correspondent   |   Sept. 15, 2008 at 4:37 PM   |   Comments

BRUSSELS, Sept. 15 (UPI) -- Poland announces $25 billion defense spending spree

Polish Defense Minister Bogdan Klich says he is planning to spend $25 billion on modernizing his country's military.

The money will be spent between 2009 and 2018, chiefly on surface-to-air missiles and short- and medium-range missiles, Klich said. He also wants to buy helicopters and ships.

Poland has received growing threats from Russia following its decision to allow the United States to build a ballistic missile defense base on its territory with 10 Ground-based Mid-course Interceptors that could intercept intercontinental ballistic missiles fired by Iran or other rogue states against Western Europe and the United States.

Under the U.S.-Polish agreement concluded in August, Poland also will receive batteries of 96 Patriot PAC-3 anti-ballistic missile interceptors to protect the base and Polish civilian and military centers from Russian intermediate- and short-range ballistic missile attack.


Slovenian PM claims innocence in Patria bribery scandal

Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Jansa has denied allegations that he is linked to the alleged Patria bribery scandal.

Jansa, who is facing re-election later this month, tried to divert all attention by insisting that the country focus on the election and how to improve the nation, rather than "absurd accusations."

"We have elections in 10 days, and whoever wins, the new government will need to know what its priorities are and what voters want. In six months' time, nobody will be talking about Patria," he told the Slovenian Parliament last week during a special session to address the allegations.

Several arrests have been made following investigations by the Finnish and Slovenian police, and several Slovenian ministers and government officials have been implicated, but they have all maintained their innocence.

The scandal was sparked following accusations by a newspaper after Slovenia, in its largest ever defense acquisition, spent $400 million on 135 armored Patria vehicles two years ago. The acquisition was necessary to meet NATO membership requirements.

The Finnish government, which is the majority owner of Patria, has been warned by its Slovenian counterparts that the ongoing investigation could hamper relations between the countries.

However, Patria has said it doesn't expect the deal to be canceled. Speculation about the contract's termination has been growing, with an out-clause forbidding tampering included in the contract.

Patria did acknowledge that if a court finds the firm guilty of bribery, then the deal would collapse.

Several Patria employees were previously arrested in Finland on charges of bribery in defense deals with Egypt.


British government seeks to sell QinetiQ holdings

The British government is looking to offload its 18.9 percent share of defense research company QinetiQ, Defense News reports.

The shares are thought to be worth about $462 million. Even after selling the last of its shares, the British government will retain the right to veto any takeover of the company for national security reasons. It holds similar power in BAE Systems and Rolls-Royce.

Following the government's previous sale of a share in QinetiQ, which was heavily criticized when a private equity firm made a tidy profit when it sold its shares, concerns have been expressed that the state's valuation of the remaining share is far too low.

QinetiQ turned over $2.43 billion over the year that ended in March.

© 2008 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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