Armed Forces

MQ-9 Finally Wears Polish Air Force Colors

Photo. Polish MoD/General Atomics

Poland has signed a service agreement on reconnaissance carried out with the use of the MQ-9A Reaper UAV. This would be a gap-filler solution, until final decisions are made on procurement of the target reconnaissance system, announced Mariusz Błaszczak, head of the Polish Ministry of Defence, via his Twitter account.

The agreement has a value of USD 70.6 million and it involves General Atomics, the manufacturer of the MQ-9 UAS. The service is expected to be rendered until Poland makes the procurement of the MQ-9B Reaper UAV.

„Another investment made in the Polish security. We have signed a leasing agreement, aimed at acquiring the MQ-9A Reaper unmanned reconnaissance system for the Polish military. It is a gap-filler solution. We would be using it until we procure our own, unmanned reconnaissance system", Minister Błaszczak wrote.

Reaper UAV is a heavy MALE UAV that remains capable of carrying up to 1,700 kilograms of weapons, PGMs included. The Reaper's primary advantage that would also be usable in the Polish circumstance is the system's reconnaissance capability ensured by its sensor suite and its long endurance. The Reaper drones would most probably be stationed at the Mirosławiec AB during peacetime.

The information on the planned MQ-9A Reaper procurement emerged in Poland, a few days after the war broke out in Ukraine, in late February 2022. Then, procurement was not mentioned in the public sphere. The reconnaissance services have been purchased directly from the system's manufacturer - the General Atomics company. It is a gap-filler solution, expected to remain in place until the MQ-9B Reaper drones procured by Poland are delivered.

The release issued by the MoD representatives also features a photo of an MQ-9 UAV with Polish Air Force insignia and civil N508HK reg. It remains unclear whether the leased system includes single, or multiple UAVs. Usually, a single system as such consists of 2 to 3 aircraft. It seems that the Polish operators of the system could have been trained during the last 6 months. That would mean that the Polish Armed Forces have already acquired new reconnaissance capabilities.