Poland Takes Step to Procure Armed Gryf UAVs

Watchkeeper X wearing a Polish color scheme. MSPO 2016. Image Credit: J.Sabak
Watchkeeper X wearing a Polish color scheme. MSPO 2016. Image Credit: J.Sabak

As the enigmatic release issued by the Armament Inspectorate of the Polish MoD suggests, negotiation has 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. The UAVs mentioned here shall have an all-weather intelligence-gathering capability. They are expected to carry guided munitions as well.

Some progress has been made in the programme aimed at the acquisition of the unmanned tactical platforms. 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. Defence24.pl found out that the analytical-conceptual phase for the Gryf programme was already finalized in the summer of 2020. As the spokesman for the Armament Inspectorate informed, progress has been made but the information released has been quite cryptic.

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.

Mjr Krzysztof Płatek, Press officer at the Armament Inspectorate

As the above release suggests, the UAV acquisition phase has begun in the Gryf programme already. It is carried out in a form of a negotiation procedure, involving selected entities. Back in July this year Płatek was announcing that the “Analytical-Conceptual Phase for the GRYF medium-range tactical UAV procurement “has been finalized. However, further progress is yet to be made. Today, as the above release suggests, actions have been undertaken already to define the possibility of delivery and the technical, organizational, or even the financial aspects of the process.

The delivery agreement conclusion date “according to the planning documents remaining in force at the Polish MoD” is to make it possible to complete the deliveries in line with a pre-defined timeline. Typically, agreements as such are finalized in no less than 2 years from the date of conclusion. The realistic delivery deadline shall be expected in 2022-2024., for the first six systems. Unless the “2021-2035 Technical Modernization Plan” does not depart significantly, within that scope, from the previous plans made within the 2013-2022 Technical Modernization Plan, and the aforesaid information shared with the Parliament by the Polish Ministry of Defence in 2018.

What entities have been or would be invited to take part in the Gryf programme negotiations still remains to be discussed. Back in 2016, before the decision was made to delay the procurement due to the limited funds available, the Thales UK Watchkeeper X platform was being considered, armed with FFLMM Fury light PGMs, along the Hermes 450 UAVs made by the Israeli Elbit systems. The WB Group and PGZ companies were considered as the entities that were to cooperate within the scope of polonization and manufacturing of those systems (former - with Thales UK). It could be assumed that the offers in question are still being taken into the account. However, one cannot rule out that new possibilities emerged.