WARSAW, Poland — The Polish Ministry of National Defence has signed a deal to lease a set of MQ-9A Reaper drones from U.S. manufacturer General Atomics. The move comes as the ministry is readying to purchase MQ-9B Reapers for the country’s military.

“The contract has a net value of $70.6 million, and the service will be provided [to Poland] until the Polish Armed Forces acquire and put into use the MQ-9B Reaper unmanned aerial reconnaissance-strike systems,” the ministry’s Armament Agency, the entity responsible for buying weapons and military gear for the country, said in a statement.

The planned acquisition of an undisclosed number of aircraft is poised to make the Polish Armed Forces the first military on NATO’s eastern flank to purchase the medium-altitude long-endurance (MALE) drone.

Earlier this year, Lt. Col. Krzysztof Płatek, a spokesperson for the Armament Agency, told Defense News the forthcoming drone acquisition “is related to the situation on Poland’s eastern border” with Ukraine which is currently combating Russia’s invasion.

Russia’s aggression against Ukraine has pushed a number of countries across the region to accelerate their acquisition plans for unmanned aerial vehicles. Some of the nations which are in the process of procuring drones for their militaries include the Czech Republic, Romania, Lithuania, and Moldova, among others.

The MQ-9A Reaper’s users include the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Italy, and Spain, according to data from General Atomics.

Jaroslaw Adamowski is the Poland correspondent for Defense News.

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