Polish Ministry of Defence: Orlik UAVs To Be Contracted in 2017. Details – Confidential

Polish Ministry of Defence announced that a relevant contract related to procurement of the short range tactical UAVs, within the framework of the corresponding Orlik programme, is expected to be signed in 2017. Detailed conditions pertaining to acceptance of the contractors’ offer submissions within the procedure will not be disclosed to the public. Before the aforesaid announcement was made, the Ministry had declared that it will limit the circle of potential contractors solely to the entities that remain under the control of the State Treasury.

As we were informed by the Acting Spokesperson for the Polish Ministry of Defence, Katarzyna Jakubowska, conclusion of the agreement which is to cover the procurement of the Orlik short range tactical UAV systems is expected to happen in 2017. Relevant deliveries could start a year later. Polish MoD decided to verify the potential contractors within the scope of their capabilities to protect the secret and confidential information. Then, the Ordering Party is going to send out invitations to the aforesaid entities, to place their initial offers.

According to the information provided to us by the Polish Ministry of Defence on 29th November, solely entities that are classified as enterprises of high economic and defence relevance may submit their offers. The detailed criteria for accepting the offers arise on the grounds of the requirements related to implementation of the procurement procedure, the aim of which is to protect the basic state security interest within the Orlik programme, and are confidential.

The requirements in question have been defined in the justification mentioned by the Decision No. 92/MON, issued by the Polish Defence Minister on 21st March 2014, regarding the detailed mode of action, when it comes to qualifying the orders and assessing, whether circumstances that form the basic national security interest emerge (Official Journal of the Polish Ministry of Defence, Item 101, with subsequent amendments). The justification is a confidential document in line with the 5th August 2010 Act on Protection of the Confidential Information (Dz. U. No. 182, item 1228), and its content cannot be publicized.

Katarzyna Jakubowska, Acting Spokesperson for the Polish Ministry of Defence

On 15th July this year, the Polish Ministry of Defence decided to cancel the previous tenders that had concerned the Orlik tactical UAV systems and the Wizjer-class mini-UAVs. Head of the Polish Armament Inspectorate, Brig. General Adam Duda announced, during his speech given at the Parliament, that cancellation of the procedure was related to repeated assessment of the basic national security interest, while the new order is going to be addressed solely to the entities that remain under the supervision of the State Treasury.

In the light of the by reassessment of the basic national security interest, carried out by the Polish Minister of Defence on 28th June this year, the tender which was being carried out so far has been cancelled on 15th July this year. Immediately initiated new procedure assumed that invitations would be sent solely to the entities remaining under the supervision of the State Treasury. It is expected that final assembly, modernization and maintenance of the UAV systems would be possible within the territory of Poland.

brig. General Adam Duda, PhD, Head of the Armament Inspectorate

As of now, the Polish Ministry of Defence has not disclosed the precise criteria that would be decisive, when it comes to acceptance of the contractors within the Orlik programme tender. The list of companies which bear significant economic and defence-related importance includes both state-managed, as well as private entities, nonetheless the earlier statement that had been made by General Duda suggests that the group of potential contractors is going to be narrowed down, solely to the companies that are being controlled by the State Treasury. The Ministry has not disclosed the criteria, on the basis of which the contractors would be accepted within the programme, however, the list of the said conditions will be directly derived from the assessment of the basic national security interest.

The rules, according to which the subcontractors would be involved in execution of the order, arise on the grounds of the specific requirements related to the basic national security interest, as adopted for the Orlik task. The conditions for the subcontractors’ inclusion in the tender have been defined within the confidential documents and thus, they cannot be publicly disclosed. These conditions will be known to the potential Contractors, invited to take part in the procedure.

Katarzyna Jakubowska, Acting Spokesperson for the Polish Ministry of Defence

Katarzyna Jakubowska noted that the tactical and technical requirements concerning the Orlik programme do not include an assumption that the short range UAV systems carry ordnance. Back in July, General Duda stressed the fact that the Polish Ministry of Defence is willing to include 12 “Orlik” UAV packages. Each of the packages may include several UAVs and control systems.

At the beginning of December, the Ministry also announced that before the year 2022 it is willing to acquire around 200 reconnaissance and intelligence-gathering UAV systems. This, most probably, is also applicable in case of the Orlik-class systems. At the same time, the Ministry also declared that it is taking steps towards acquisition of “combat drones”, attack systems that would be use for direct attack purposes, that could become a part of the inventory of the ground units, both within the operational component, as well as within the territorial defence elements. Larger UAV systems are expected to be purchased too.

Here, WB Electronics Warmate or Military Institute of Armament Technology DragonFly systems pose a good example. Mass use of similar systems is to increase their effectiveness and limit the cost. On the other hand, Orlik class systems are a bit larger – the examples include the E-310 UAV manufactured by the Polish Armaments Group, as well as Łoś or Manta “flying-wing” UAV systems manufactured by WB Electronics. Łoś UAV has been presented during the recent demonstration held in Zielonka. The said event was attended by the Head of the Polish Ministry of Defence, Antoni Macierewicz. This class of UAV should also be capable of carrying armament, such as the light Larus guided bomb units.

Currently, only a small quantity of the US made ScanEagle systems, operated by the Polish Army, may be listed as equipment of a similar nature. For a similar purpose, the US Army uses the Textron Shadow family UAV systems.

Among the lighter mini-class UAVs, the Polish Army uses, among other systems, the WB Electronics FlyEye and Israeli Orbiter UAVs. FlyEye system is also being widely applied by the Polish Border Guard, as well as by NATO and outside-NATO export users. The relevant works related to the UAVs are being undertaken, alongside the PGZ companies, including the WZL No. 2 [Military Aviation Works No. 2], by a number of national research institutes, including the Air Force Institute of Technology, Military Institute of Armament Technology and smaller private entities. Nonetheless, WB Group is the company which, undoubtedly, has gathered the largest amount of expertise, it has also signed relatively numerous export agreements.

Considering the fact that the domestic defence industry has potential at its disposal, which is sufficient to develop original solutions within that scope, the path which would be the most optimal would be to accept solely the domestic contractors, however, allowing the private entities to place their offers too, in a competitive manner. This would make it possible to fully utilize the available potential and select the best solution. Moreover, export options for the Polish defence industry would also be expanded, should such steps be taken.