We have negotiated an agreement that would cover procurement of 4 UCAV packages - 24 aircraft armed with anti-tank guided missiles, stated head of the Polish Ministry of Defence Mariusz Błaszczak, referring to the acquisition of the Bayraktar TB2 drones in his interview for Polskie Radio 24. Błaszczak added that Turkish F-16 jets would be deployed to Malbork soon, within the framework of Air Policing duties.
The Head of the MoD added that Poland expects the first UCAV set of 6 aircraft to be delivered next year. He noted that the agreement also covers the logistics and training package, as well as a maintenance offset agreement, with the offset delegated to a “military enterprise”. Błaszczak stated that no Polish company makes UAVs in the class of TB2. Should a similar product be offered by the Polish military industry, the MoD would consider procurement as such.
Bayraktar TB2 is a tactical medium-range armed UCAV that meets the assumptions of the Polish Gryf UAV procurement programme. The project envisages the acquisition of up to 15 sets of aircraft. It is thus possible Turkish drones would be used mainly to achieve the initial capability.
The aircraft’s MTOW is 650 kg, and its wingspan is 12 meters. Its operational ceiling is defined as 6,750 meters, with an operational range of 150 km from the control station. This creates an expansive operational envelope for the system. The drone’s cruise speed is 130 kph. Top speed is said to exceed 220 kph. The UCAV is powered by a single 100 HP Rotax 912 engine with a push-propeller. The aircraft design is specific for the class: compact fuselage with a push propeller. The dual tail is connected with an inverted, V-shaped stabilizer.
The drone uses the 37.5 kg UMTAS ATGMs, 22.5 kg MAM-L loitering munitions, and probably the 70 mm Cirit rockets as the armament. So far, the Bayraktar platforms have been procured by: Libya, Azerbaijan, Qatar, Morocco, and Ukraine. The UCAV has seen combat in Nagorno Karabakh, Syria, and Libya. Błaszczak also recalled that today, an agreement concerning the support vehicles for the Rak self-propelled mortars module (ammunition carriers, repair vehicles) would be signed today.
During the Cafe Armia radio programme Błaszczak added that Turkey would soon join the Baltic Air Policing operation, and the Turkish Air Force’s F-16 Multi Role Combat Aircraft would be stationed at the Polish Malbork AB. This could be interpreted as a signal, suggesting that Ankara is getting involved in the reinforcement of NATO’s Eastern Flank. Recently, the Turkish E-7 AWACS platform conducted a mission in the Romanian airspace, within the framework of NATO operations.