Czesław Mroczek, Polish MoD’s Secretary of State, stated that throughout the three upcoming months, Poland is going to select its MALE UCAV’s. Negotiations with USA- and Israel-based companies are said to be in progress.
Minister Mroczek stated that the negotiations related to acquisition of the MALE UCAV’s are to be finished within the three upcoming months, and negotiations with the Israeli and US authorities are currently in progress, since these countries are in possession of proper technologies and knowledge. The related agreement is to have an intergovernmental character.
Ministry of Defence wants to acquire 4 bundles, with 3 UCAV’s in each bundle (12 UCAV’s in total), along with all the required ground systems. The tender is realized in line with the procedures, that have been created in order to protect the basic national security interest.
MoD estimates that cost of purchasing the MALE UAV’s is to constitute several billion zlotys. On 6th February the US Department of State accepted the request to sell four unarmed MALE UAV’s to Holland – MQ-9 Reapers are the drones in question here. Value of the deal was said not to exceed the amount of USD 339 million. This means that maximum cost of acquisition of the Reapers incurred by Holland is to be as much as one billion zlotys. It is safe to assume that cost of procurement of 12 combat UAV’s (depending on the variant) will not be lower than PLN 2-3 billion.
In the basic assumption, process of acquiring the UAV’s is to include technology transfer for the Polish businesses. According to the unofficial information, the UCAV’s are to be stationed at the Mirosławiec AB, which has been used by the Polish Su-22 Fitters so far. MALE UAV procurement process is a realization of the concept created by the General Staff, back in 2008.
MALE UAV’s have limited operational capabilities when the enemy has advanced anti-aircraft systems at his disposal. Electronic warfare systems pose another, relevant threat. Head of the Armament Inspectorate, General Sławomir Szczepaniak did not want to address the question, regarding the countries where the UCAV’s were used in a dense air defence environment.
So far the MALE-class UAV’s have been widely used in Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, mostly within the scope of destroying ground targets connected to the terrorist organization, which had no air-defence systems at their disposal. Polish doctrine regarding use of the UCAV’s is unknown, however, using MALE class UAV’s during a conflict would be quite difficult due to the electronic warfare measures, including the measures which are used to jam the satellite signals.
Proponents of acquisition of the MALE UAV’s stress the fact that introduction of such vehicles would provide the Polish Army with a completely new set of capabilities, particularly within the scope of carrying out long reconnaissance missions at vast distances, and to some extent, within the scope of destroying the ground targets.