NATO member Poland said Tuesday it will acquire combat drones as part of a multi-billion-euro revamp of its armed forces amid heightened tensions with Russia over its role in the Ukraine crisis.
“We will use these drones to defend our territory,” Deputy Defence Minister Czeslaw Mroczek told AFP.
“My Ukrainian counterpart informed me that one of their main problems was the fact that Russian drones were operating in Ukrainian air space to scope out artillery targets.
“The Ukrainians were helpless in this situation, and so this is our answer,” Mroczek said.
Warsaw will begin acquiring reconnaissance drones in 2017 and attack models in 2018-2019, he added, revealing that talks are underway with US manufacturers, among others, for combat unmanned aerial vehicles or CUAVs.
Poland has earmarked 33.6 billion euros ($42 billion) to upgrade its military equipment over a decade, including acquiring a missile shield and anti-aircraft systems, armoured personnel carriers and submarines in addition to the drones.
The escalation of tensions with Russia over its role in the Ukraine crisis has sounded the alarm on NATO’s eastern flank in countries that were once under Moscow’s thumb.
Tensions have mounted further as NATO intercepted nuclear-capable Russian bombers and other warplanes in European airspace on more than 100 occasions so far this year, three times more than in all of 2013.
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