The Polish defence ministry's armaments inspectorate has launched a study process intended to support the nation's future acquisition of medium-altitude, long-endurance (MALE) unmanned air vehicles.

Warsaw expects to issue a preliminary outline of its equipment requirements to potential suppliers by 31 October, and to release a detailed request for information to a shortlist of companies after receiving initial technical responses.

Poland's air force first expressed interest in acquiring MALE-class air vehicles in 2005, when it outlined a plan to acquire two systems. However, a team formed to analyse market options available at the time recommended that a purchase be delayed.

A fresh assessment conducted in 2008-09 suggested that a decision should be taken in 2013 or 2014, while the armaments inspectorate last year reviewed this to 2018.

If advanced to an acquisition, the MALE UAVs are likely to be assigned to the air force's 32nd tactical aviation base at Lask.

The only unmanned aircraft owned by the Polish armed forces are Aeronautics-supplied Orbiter mini-UAVs. Eleven of the aircraft are used by the land forces and four by the special forces command. Warsaw in late September cancelled a delayed deal to introduce Aerostar tactical UAVs to have been supplied by the same Israeli firm for use in Afghanistan.

Source: Flight International