Poland will strengthen its reconnaissance capabilities with the US MQ-9A Reaper.

Poland will lease an American MQ-9A Reaper in a contract estimated at 70 million dollars. Thus, Poland will become the latest international customer to fly the MQ-9A Reaper. General Atomics said the MQ-9A is currently flown by the US, the United Kingdom, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, among others. Both the UK and Belgium have the MQ-9B. American MQ-9As have been flown from Poland by the US Air Force since 2019.

The MQ-9A will expand the Polish military’s aerial reconnaissance capabilities. The UAV is a further development of the MQ-1 Predator drone, and assumes the reconnaissance and surveillance role of its predecessor. The Reaper is equipped with a much more powerful engine and a better load-bearing wing design for weapons to effectively make it one of the first true hunter-killer drones.

MQ-9A has a length of 11m, a wingspan of 20m, a maximum take-off load of 4.76 tons. Reaper is equipped with a Honeywell TP331-10 engine with 900 hp, much more powerful than the 115 hp piston engine of the Predator. The greater power allows the Reaper to carry 15 times more ordnance payload and cruise at about three times the speed of the MQ-1. The UAV can reach a top speed of 300 mph, a cruise speed of 194 mph, a range of 1,200 mi, a endurance of 14 hours, a service ceiling of 50,000 ft.

The flight endurance allows the MQ-9 to play its full surveillance role in combat and allows the aircraft to loiter over a target long enough for it to be identified as a civilian or a hostile. Surveillance is conducted through the use of AN/APY-8 Lynx II Radar and an AN/DAS-1 MTS-B Multi-Spectral Targeting System.

The MQ-9 Reaper has six hardpoints under the wings and fuselage to carry air-to-air, air-to-ground missiles or a variety of bombs, depending on the mission. Besides surveillance, the Reaper is known to AGM-114 Hellfire missiles and GBU-38 Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAMs) in its role as a hunter-killer UCAV. There are also plans to equip the Reaper with AIM-92 Stinger missiles in order to defend itself in an air-to-air role. The MQ-9 Reaper made its maiden flight in February 2001 and entered service with the US Air Force in May 2007. Warsaw has been on a recent trend to increase its procurement and modernization of its military vehicles, including deals for Korean-made tanks, howitzers, light combat aircraft and rocket systems. The MQ-9 is believed to be a necessary stepping stone before Poland develops its own unmanned aircraft systems.


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