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Poland Launches the Albatros Maritime VTOL UAS Programme

Image Credit: Schiebel
Image Credit: Schiebel

The Armament Inspectorate announced that a procurement procedure has been launched, pertaining to “delivery of a short-range VTOL Tactical UAV - Albatros” The aircraft would serve recce and maritime SAR purposes. A single system is expected to be procured, with option to acquire another one. The requests for participation can be submitted until 29th January 2020.

As the brief description of the procurement reads: 

The order concerns delivery of two short-range tactical VTOL UAVs, including one (1) system procured as a part of the base procurement (guaranteed), and one (1) that may be procured within the scope of the right of option. The UAVs will be used to equip the Armed Forces with equipment for daytime/night observation in varied environments, including reconnaissance with regards to the enemy forces over the sea, coast, over the land, and in maritime SAR missions with the use of electro-optical sensors and SAR radar sensors. 

The information above is somewhat aligned with the subject of the technical dialogue concerning a system as such - pursued under the name “Albatros”. The dialogue concerned a tactical UAV that would have an MTOW of 200 kg and that could operate from land, as well as in an embarked setting. The daytime/night operation capability was required, overland and over water, with minimized RCS and IR signature.

The new UAVs were expected to be adapted for being transported in standard containers, both via the sea routes, as well as by the C-295M or C-130E Hercules transport aircraft. The system is expected to be used by the Navy and operate in an embarked setting, even though this was not said directly. Systems as such are becoming increasingly more popular, as they provide the relatively small surface combatants with an ability to carry out air reconnaissance, patrol, and SAR operations. 

The procurement procedure announced on 15th December is to be pursued as a negotiation process involving selected contractors. 5 contractors would be qualified to participate. If more entities submit their requests, ones with a greater UAV delivery portfolio would be favored. The UAVs would also need to receive high ratings, in line with conditions defined by the Armament Inspectorate. The order would be awarded based on an 80/20 assessment (80% - price, 20% - performance of the system). The agreement would need to be completed in 15 months from the conclusion. This translates into a short time of implementation and excludes designs that are not operated and series manufactured currently. Saab Skeldar and Austrian Schiebel C-100 Camcopters are the best-known designs in the class of the Albatros UAV.