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Polish Air Force receives MQ-A9 Reaper drones leased from General Atomics.

| 2023

According to a tweet posted on February 12 by Mariusz Blaszkzak, Polish Minister of Defense, it appears that General Atomics MALE (Medium Altitude Long Endurance) MQ-9A Reaper drones have been delivered this same day to Poland, leased from the USA as part of an urgent operational need. They will serve in the Air Force, conducting reconnaissance, among others, on Poland’s eastern border.

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Polish Air Force receives leased MQ A9 Reaper drones from General Atomics General Atomics MQ-9A Reaper  (Picture source: Twitter account of Mariusz Blaszkzak)

In October 2022, the Polish Ministry of Defense signed a contract to lease General Atomics Aeronautical Systems MQ-9A Reaper drones. “The contract has a net value of $70.6 million, and the service will be provided [to Poland] until the Polish Armed Forces acquire and put into use the MQ-9B Reaper unmanned aerial reconnaissance-strike systems,” the ministry’s Armament Agency published in a statement.

“GA-ASI’s support for Poland and the NATO alliance is steadfast as they confront the ongoing war in the region,” General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI) CEO Linden Blue said. “We look forward to delivering our proven MQ-9A platform system to Poland to enhance the nation’s ability to conduct persistent airborne ISR intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance] and support its Defense Forces.”

The MQ-9 is the first hunter-killer UAV designed for long-endurance, high-altitude surveillance. In 2006, the then–Chief of Staff of the United States Air Force General T. Michael Moseley said: "We've moved from using UAVs primarily in intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance roles before Operation Iraqi Freedom, to a true hunter-killer role with the Reaper."

The MQ-9 is a larger, heavier, and more capable aircraft than the earlier General Atomics MQ-1 Predator; it can be controlled by the same ground systems used to control MQ-1s. The Reaper has a 950-shaft-horsepower (712 kW) turboprop engine (compared to the Predator's 115 hp (86 kW) piston engine). 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 aircraft is monitored and controlled by aircrew in the Ground Control Station (GCS), including weapons employment.

The MQ-9A Reaper’s current users include the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Italy, and Spain, according to data from General Atomics.

Polish Air Force receives MQ A9 Reaper drones leased from General Atomics 2 Already carrying Polish national markings, this is one of the General Atomics MQ-9A reaper unmanned aircraft that were delivered to Poland on Sunday, February 12 (Polish Armaments Agency)

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