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Poland to lease MQ-9 Reaper for reconnaissance missions

MQ-9 Reaper Poland lease
Photo: Mariusz Błaszczak/Twitter

In the latest in a long list of investments into its defense forces, Poland has announced it would be leasing an MQ-9A Reaper drone to enhance its military’s intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities.

Polish defense minister Mariusz Błaszczak revealed on October 20 that the country signed a lease agreement for the medium altitude, long-endurance (MALE) UAS, without revealing further details.

He only said the lease agreement was a bridging solution, which would be used until the defense ministry acquires its own unmanned reconnaissance system.

Błaszczak’s announcement comes after Poland revealed earlier this year it would be looking to buy the Reaper from the United States amid the deteriorating security situation in the region in light of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Polish defense procurement agency spokesman Krzysztof Platek told Reuters in March this year that the country planned an urgent procurement of drones in the short term, while continuing its Zefir MALE UAS program at the same time.

The multi-mission MQ-9 Reaper medium altitude, long-endurance (MALE) UAS has up to 26 hours of flight endurance and carries HD-video sensors (optical and IR), ground-imaging/MTI/maritime radar, and other surveillance sensors. The aircraft features an extensive payload capacity (386 kg internally, 1361 kg externally), with a maximum altitude of 45,000 feet/13,700 meters.

The Reaper lease is the latest in a series of major investments arranged by the Polish defense this year. These have included the purchase of K2 Black Panther tanks and K9 self-propelled howitzers from South Korea in deals worth around $5.7 billion, as well as the K239 Chunmoo multiple launch rocket systems (MLRS).

When it comes to air defense, Poland accelerated the delivery of Mała Narew short short-range air defense (SHORAD) systems and signed of a letter of request for an additional six Patriot missile defense system batteries.

In May this year, Poland also announced its intention to buy an additional 500 M142 HIMARS launchers that would equip more than 80 Polish Army batteries. Additionally, the country requested to buy 96 Apache helicopters as part of its Kruk attack helicopter program last month.

All of these investments follow Poland’s purchase of F-35A fighters and Abrams M1A2 SEPv3 main battle tanks from the US in 2021.