WARSAW (Reuters) – Poland will buy 24 armed drones from Turkey, the Polish defence minister said on Saturday, becoming the first NATO member to buy Turkish-made unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).
The Bayraktar TB2 drones, the first of which are due to be delivered next year, will be armed with anti-tank projectiles. Poland will also buy a logistics and training package, said Defence Minister Mariusz Blaszczak.
Blaszczak told state radio the Bayraktar TB2 drones “have proven themselves in wars” and added that the UAVs would be serviced by a military company, without giving further details.
The contract, which will be concluded without a procurement process, will be signed next week during a visit by Polish President Andrzej Duda to Turkey.
Authorities in fellow NATO member Turkey say the country has become the world’s fourth-largest drone producer since President Tayyip Erdogan increased domestic production to reduce reliance on Western arms.
Turkish defence technology company Baykar has sold its Bayraktar TB2 armed drone to Azerbaijan, Ukraine, Qatar and Libya. Erdogan said in March that Saudi Arabia was also interested in buying Turkish drones.
Canada scrapped export permits for drone technology to Turkey in April, after concluding that the equipment was used by Azeri forces fighting Armenia in the enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh. The parts under embargo included camera systems for Baykar armed drones.
(Reporting by Alicja Ptak in Warsaw and Ali Kucukgocmen in Istanbul; Editing by Helen Popper)