At the MSPO international defense industry exhibition in Kielce, Poland, earlier this week, Jack O’Banion, the vice president for strategy and customer requirements at Lockheed Martin’s Skunk Works division, said the hosting country was interested in his company’s next-generation drones.
Both the US and Poland are interested in a next-generation UAS [unmanned aerial system] capability,” O’Banion said at a news briefing, Defense News reported. “We’ve seen the Polish Ministry of Defense’s Technical Modernization Plan, which was released last year, which outlines the UAS need,” he said, noting there was “significant overlap” between US and Polish drone needs.
In January, the NATO ally signed a deal to buy some 32 F-35A stealth aircraft, which are also made by Lockheed Martin and which will begin arriving in 2024. The deal is worth $4.6 billion.
It’s unclear which drones Warsaw is thinking about getting, but some of Lockheed’s advanced unmanned aircraft projects include the Stalker XE, a propane-powered, hand-launched drone that can stay aloft for nearly 13 hours, and the RQ-170 Sentinel.
Nicknamed “the Beast of Kandahar” for its role in the US war in Afghanistan, the Sentinel is a mysterious, delta wing-shaped stealth drone that we know more about from Iran, which shot one down in 2011, than we do from the tight-lipped US Air Force.