WARSAW — Poland’s Ministry of Defense has announced plans to replace its fleet of Su-22 fighter jets with unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCAVs), according to various reports in the Polish media.
Senior defense officials say Poland will not modernize its 38 Soviet-built jets, first of which are to be withdrawn from service in 2014.
“We decided that it would not be rational to further upgrade the Su-22 aircraft. They are simply outdated,” Polish Defense Minister Tomasz Siemoniak told local news agency PAP.
Retired Gen. Waldemar Skrzypczak, Poland’s deputy defense minister responsible for the armed forces’ modernization, has said that the Polish military should acquire at least 30 armed drones by the end of 2018.
Under the plan, the new drones are to be stationed in the Polish Air Force’s 21st Tactical Air Base in Swidwin, in the country’s northwestern region of Zachodniopomorskie, where the Su-22s are currently deployed.
Other scenarios discussed by the Polish military included the acquisition of a further squadron of F-16C/D fighter jets. However, the plan was eventually scrapped by the ministry. The Polish Air Force has 48 F-16C/D Block 52+ fighter jets which were purchased in 2004.
In June, Poland’s Ministry of Defense said it aimed to purchase between 123 and 205 unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) at a cost of as much as 1 billion zloty ($312 million).