As early as next year, Warsaw could select a supplier for a tactical Army UAS, part of Poland’s push to boost domestic industry and military capability in unmanned aircraft systems, a Polish Army officer said.
“The earliest [is] 2014,” Army Colonel Mariusz Jachol told a press briefing held by a consortium of Polish companies and research institutes led by WB Electronics, and Army officers at the embassy in Paris on December 5.
The tactical UAS, with a requested range of 200 kilometers, would be used at the brigade and division level, Jachol said. The budget is “enough,” he said, declining to disclose the procurement figure.
“Depending on what the budget will be,” the planned acquisition would total eight to 12 sets consisting of four aircraft in a set, he said.
The Polish companies and officers were here to meet French executives, including those at Dassault, EADS, Safran’s Sagem and Thales, and military officers, in a plan to select a European partner on the UAS drive.
The seminar’s aim was “a reconnaissance by both sides,” said Adam Bartosiewicz, vice president and co-founder of WB Electronics.
The WB-led consortium hopes to win Poland’s tender to develop and build its own UAS ranging from micro, tactical to medium-range, long-endurance (MALE) UAS, with the latter carrying arms.
This year, France and Poland published their respective defence white papers, which set out policy aims, said General Maurice de Langlois, research director for European Union-Atlantic security at the Institute for Military and Strategic Affairs in Paris.
While both countries set out similar positions in collective defence under NATO and a European common defense and security policy, Warsaw pushed the envelope on the industrial front.
“Poland went further than French policy” on the integration of industry, de Langlois said. Paris talks of cooperation, but not integration.
Warsaw sees UAS as a “major requirement,” and wants to move ahead on development and production, including platforms and ground stations, he said.
Poland is looking to acquire four systems comprising MALE, tactical, mini and micro UAS, the Embassy said in a note.
The main task is Polish territorial protection, so line of sight is the priority. But the requirement for the MALE UAS includes the possibility of installing satellite communications gear, the Polish officials said.
Polish industry has developed autopilot, communication links, optronics and other payloads for UAS bought from Israel and the US. Composite material is another area of domestic development.
The aim now is to build Polish UAS with European industrial cooperation.
“We’re looking to establish cooperation with European industry,” Bartosiewicz said. Working with France, Germany, Spain or another European country would help plug Poland’s capability gap, he said.
Technology transfer will be one of the terms for European cooperation, he said.
By building its own UAS, Poland falls in line with NATO’s selection of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities as a priority for the alliance, Jachol said.
A second priority for Polish forces is space imagery, which offers the potential for cooperation with France, he said.
Meanwhile, Israel failed to win a tender for mini-UAS because of a weakness in technical support, Bartosiewicz said. “Delivery is first step,” he said, adding that logistical and technical support is important. “Our previous experience with one of the Israeli companies shows us their very weak points in technical support.”
A need for fast service led to a win by Polish firm Flytronic, one of the consortium members, which has delivered 12 sets of its FlyEye mini-UAS to the Polish Army.
Israeli UAS flown by the Polish forces include the Aerostar and Orbiter mini-UAS from Aeronautics Defense Systems. Poland also flies the ScanEagle, built by Insitu, a subsidiary of Boeing.
The Defence Ministry has set a budget of 2 billion to 3 billion zloty (US $650 million to $975 million) to cover its UAS programme, the Embassy said.
Warsaw also is part of the Weimar Triangle, a political cooperation forum formed by France, Germany and Poland in 1991. That also is seen as a way to cooperate on a European UAS.
Source: Defense News