Polish UAV Systems Procurement: “Zefir” and “Gryf” Programmes Handled By The Minister of Defence. “Orlik” and “Wizjer” Drones To Be Selected This Year.

Image Credit: J. Sabak.
Image Credit: J. Sabak.

Decision regarding the initiation of the “Zefir” and “Gryf” UCAV programmes is now being handled by the Polish Minister of Defence, as it was stated by the Chief of the Armament Inspectorate, General Adam Duda, during the meeting of the Parliamentary Sub-Commission dealing with the issues related to the Polish Defence Industry and Technological Modernization of the Polish Armed Forces. When it comes to the short range airframes, dubbed “Orlik” and “Wizjer”, the procedures are already in progress. Final offers are expected to be submitted until 15th April.

During the meeting of the Parliamentary Sub-commission, Head of the Armament Inspectorate, General Adam Duda, released additional information pertaining the main modernization programmes pursued by the Polish military, including four, most important programmes related to the unmanned aerial vehicles. Here we mean the “Zefir” MALE systems, “Gryf” UCAVs and “Orlik” and “Wizjer” short range UAVs. The programmes are currently at different stages of completion.

READ MORE:Hermes 450 Offered By PGZ and Elbit. Gryf Programme Memorandum.

Acquisition of four MALE operational UAV systems, also known as “Zefir”. Here, no capabilities exist, on the part of the Polish industry, to create such system independently. These systems are only available through intergovernmental contracts - here we mean the United States and Israel. At the moment, the relevant proposals have been transferred to the Minister of Defence. In the upcoming days we will be deliberating the selection of the country, with which the prospective agreement is going to be signed. Of course, this will be connected to a technology transfer and establishment of relevant potential, within the territory of Poland.

Head of the Polish Armament Inspectorate, Brig. General Adam Duda.

Within the MALE area there are no surprises, both when it comes to the procurement procedure, as well as when it comes to the considered systems. Since a long time, two proposals are being considered here, namely the Israeli Hermes 900 UAV and the US-made MQ-9 Reaper system. Most probably, one of the two systems above is going to be procured “straight from the shelf”, via an inter-governmental contract, without significant involvement of the Polish industry.

In the light of the above, Gryf programme is far more interesting, since these UAVs, on the basis of the decision made by the Polish Ministry of Defence in August last year, are going to be purchased from a Polish company, collaborating with a foreign subject. 

READ MORE: Watchkeeper With Claws for Poland.

When it comes to the “Gryf” initiative, 12 UAV systems are expected to be acquired. Five of them are treated with priority, they are to be delivered by the year 2022. Here a procedure is being carried out, and a relevant request was also submitted to the [Polish Defence] Minister. Watchkeeper UAV offered by WB Electronics in collaboration with Thales and Hermes 450 UAV offered by the Polish Armament Group in collaboration with Elbit are the two main products identified within the programme.

Head of the Polish Armament Inspectorate, Brig. General Adam Duda.

In the light of the fact that the first five systems are expected to be acquired by 2022, the decision pertaining the relevant purchasing procedures shall be made soon. Both the Watcheeper as well as the Hermes 450 systems are being offered in collaboration with the domestic companies, and it quite is tough to assess what criteria will be used, besides the technical parameters, to select the system to be acquired. WB Electronics, collaborating with the Thales company, has a wider expertise in the field of development of the UAV systems, while the Polish Armament Group (PGZ) is a state-driven enterprise.

When it comes to the “Orlik” and “Wizjer” programmes, pertaining the short range systems, final offers are to be submitted soon. Final offer placing deadline expires on Apr. 15th. Three offers by the domestic entities have been placed: PGZ, WB Electronics and PZL Okęcie.

Head of the Polish Armament Inspectorate, Brig. General Adam Duda.

As the statement above shows, the short range UAVs tendering procedure has, at the moment, reached the most advanced stage. Here, the contract is being fought for between a private and a state entity. Besides the Polish Armament Group and WB Electronics, Airbus PZL-Okęcie facility is also involved in the tender. List of the qualified designs should become public in Mid-April, while the whole tender is expected to be finalized by the end of the year.