WARSAW, Poland — Amid increasing concern over Russia’s invasion of neighboring Ukraine, Poland has decided to buy an undisclosed number of MQ-9 Reaper drones from the United States under a special, accelerated procedure. With the planned procurement, the Polish Armed Forces would become the first military on NATO’s eastern flank to purchase the medium-altitude long-endurance (MALE) UAV.
“We want to urgently acquire these unmanned aerial vehicles, and we’re currently in talks with our American partners,” Lieutenant Colonel Krzysztof Płatek, a spokesperson for the Armament Agency of the Polish Ministry of National Defence, told Defense News. The forthcoming purchase “is related to the situation on Poland’s eastern border” with Ukraine.
The value of the planned acquisition was not disclosed by the ministry. Poland aims to buy the drones “as soon as possible,” according to Płatek.
The latest development marks another purchase of combat UAVs for the Polish military. Last May, Warsaw bought 24 Bayraktar TB2 drones from Turkey. The contract covers four sets of UAVs equipped with anti-tank missiles. Deliveries are scheduled for the years 2022 to 2024, according to data from the ministry.
Meanwhile, Warsaw is also planning to acquire new mid-range UAVs under the Gryf (Griffin) program, and further MALE drones under the Zefir (Zephyr) program.
Manufactured by General Atomics, the MQ-9 Reaper offers an endurance of 27 hours, and it can operate at an altitude of up to 50,000 feet (15,240 meters), as indicated by figures from the manufacturer.
Jaroslaw Adamowski is the Poland correspondent for Defense News.