WARSAW (Reuters) - Poland may join forces with other NATO members such as Norway or the Netherlands to buy submarines in a bid to cut costs, instead of buying them alone, Deputy Defence Minister Czeslaw Mroczek said on Sunday.
The ministry had planned to buy three submarines with delivery set for 2020-25 and at a cost of 7.5 billion zlotys ($2 billion) in a tender due to be launched at the start of this year.
This was postponed when Poland decided to change the contract specification to arm the fleet with maneuvering missiles.
"We are considering obtaining submarines, for instance together with Norway or the Netherlands," Mroczek told state news agency PAP.
He said work was being completed on the initial specifications for the fleet. The aim of partnering up with NATO members was to save on costs, PAP reported him as saying.
"From the point of view of the procedure and how we do it - whether in one or two proceedings - will depend on if we buy the submarines alone or as a joint project of two or more NATO members," he said.
According to PAP, French industrial group DCNS, Swedish Saab Kockums and German ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems have shown interest in a tender for building the submarines.
Poland's defense ministry was not immediately available for comment.
Poland sped up a modernization program of its military after Russia's annexation of Ukraine's Crimea Peninsula last year prompted great concern among NATO members in Eastern Europe.
Earlier this year Poland announced it would buy Raytheon Co's Patriot missiles from the United States and provisionally selected French Airbus Group helicopters in deals potentially worth $8 billion.
Asked to comment on the deputy minister's announcement, Dutch Defence Ministry spokeswoman Lisa Hartog said the Dutch government was in talks with countries that it cooperates with on naval strategy on replacing its "Walrus" class submarines in the coming years.
"What we're going to be doing, in concrete terms, will only be decided toward the end of this year," Hartog told Reuters.
The Norwegian Defence Ministry spokeswoman Marita Wangberg said Poland could potentially qualify as a partner in the purchase of submarines.
"A future acquisition is yet to be decided, but as part of the process, cooperation with other countries is being assessed. In such cases Poland can be a relevant candidate," Wangberg said.
(Reporting by Adrian Krajewski in Warsaw, Stine Buch Jacobsen in Oslo, and Toby Sterling in Amsterdam; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)