Mariusz Błaszczak, head of the Polish MoD, posted an enigmatic photograph of a UAV scale model, with a cryptic caption: “Good news coming soon...stay tuned!”. The details of the model point to the proven and successful Turkish TB-2 Bayraktar UCAV.
Już wkrótce dobre informacje… stay tuned! pic.twitter.com/UxQT0RtRjf— Mariusz Błaszczak (@mblaszczak) May 19, 2021
The model on the photograph reminisces the Turkish design when it comes to the fuselage and wing shape. The Polish Air Force’s checkerboards have replaced the Turkish roundels in the exact same spots. Other details also reminisce the Turkish camouflage scheme, including an illegible designation - probably reading “Bayraktar TB-2”.
The model carries missiles on four hardpoints under the fuselage - two lighter missiles on the external ones, and two heavier ones, on the internal hardpoints. This is a stores layout that is similar to one we have commonly witnessed in the case of the TB-2.
Defence24 announced back in November that the analytical-conceptual phase of the Gryf tactical UAV procurement programme has been finalized at the Armament Inspectorate. Documents on that matter were to be sent to the Polish MoD. Later, unconfirmed rumors were made, regarding the talks between Poland, and the Turkish defence industry, regarding specifically the Bayraktar drones.
The implementation phase of the task pertaining to the acquisition of the tactical medium range UAVs known as GRYF is underway now. The proceedings pursued by the Armament Inspectorate shall be finalized by the conclusion of an agreement, on a date making it possible to accomplish the task in line with the planning documents remaining in force at the MoD. However, ultimately, defining that deadline would depend on the negotiation with the Contractors, covering all of the task implementation aspects, including further specification of the subject of the order.
This is aligned with the enigmatic release issued by the Armament Inspectorate of the Polish MoD that suggested, negotiation had already begun involving the potential contractors who would be willing to deliver the Gryf medium-range tactical UAVs. The Gryf platforms would constitute one of the key elements of the “OBSERWATOR IMINT and Satellite Reconnaissance” Operational Programme. It was announced that the UAVs mentioned here shall have an all-weather intelligence-gathering capability. They were expected to carry guided munitions as well.
It seems that the procurement may be an off-the-shelf one, with the urgent operational requirement and/or essential national security interest being used as a justification here. This shall not be a surprise, given the successful employment of those systems in the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, or, earlier on - in Libya. In the latter case, the UAVs are considered to be the main factor that brought General Haftar’s Tripoli offensive to a halt. The drone is also said to have defeated the modern Russian Pantsir systems.
According to the information released during the meeting of the Parliamentary National Defence Committee, back in March 2018, by the Deputy Head of the MoD Wojciech Skurkiewicz, the programme above was to involve the delivery of 6 systems (4 UAVs and a control station in each of the systems) between 2020 and 2022. Another 6 systems could be procured in the unspecified future. During a meeting of the Parliamentary National Defence Committee back in April, Deputy Minister Skurkiewicz was mentioning the planned acquisition of 15 tactical medium-range UAV systems. The quantity could have been reviewed and it could have gone up, also due to the conclusions gathered during the armed conflicts.
Some questions still remain open - ones concerning the deliveries, and the polonization of the Turkish systems. It shall also cover the control elements of the system. One also cannot be certain that the system would ultimately be acquired by the military, at least until detailed information is released by the MoD.
So far, the Bayraktar platforms have been procured by: Libya, Azerbaijan, Qatar, Morocco, and Ukraine.