FILE PHOTO: A U.S. Air Force MQ-9 Reaper drone sits in a hanger at Amari Air Base, Estonia, July 1, 2020. U.S. unmanned aircraft are deployed in Estonia to support NATO’s intelligence gathering missions in the Baltics. REUTERS/Janis Laizans/File Photo

March 16, 2022

WARSAW (Reuters) -Poland wants to buy MQ-9 Reaper drones from the United States in the near future and is eyeing further procurements at a later date amid rising security concerns three weeks into a Russian invasion of its neighbour Ukraine.

“We are planning to urgently procure the first MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aerial systems,” Lieutenant Colonel Krzysztof Platek, a spokesperson for the Defence Ministry’s Armament Agency, said on Wednesday.

While the first drones would be ordered under an accelerated procedure, Poland was also pursuing the Zefir programme under which the purchase of MALE-class unmanned aerial vehicles is being negotiated, Platek told Reuters.

He declined to specify which drones might be ordered.

“We are talking about delivery of several sets in total,” he later added.

Poland hopes to receive the first drones before the end of the year. The value of the planned acquisition was not disclosed by the ministry.

“This order is an answer to … security situation, particularly in central and eastern Europe,” Platek said, referring to the war in Ukraine, Europe’s biggest armed conflict since World War Two.

Last May, Poland bought 24 Bayraktar drones from Turkey, becoming the first NATO member to buy drones from Ankara. The same drones were used by Ukraine against invading Russian forces.

(Reporting by Alicja Ptak; Editing by Jonathan Oatis and Tomasz Janowski)

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