Poland moves away from Soviet defense

Aug. 14, 2012 at 10:14 AM

WARSAW, Poland, Aug. 14 (UPI) -- The Polish military is looking to replace a Soviet-era fighter jet with an unmanned drone program from unnamed suppliers, a defense official said.

Polish Deputy Defense Minister Waldemar Skrzypczak was quoted by Russia's state-run news agency RIA Novosti as saying Warsaw could phase out its Soviet-era Sukhoi Su-22 fleet in favor of unmanned aerial vehicles.

"We are looking at possibly swapping some of our Su-22 fleet for long-range pilotless systems with high-strike capability," he said.

The Su-22 entered the Polish fleet in the 1970s. Warsaw aims to buy 30 unmanned platforms by 2018.

Polish Defense Minister Tomasz Siemoniak met in July with U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta in Warsaw regarding the deployment of a missile defense system.

U.S. Defense Department spokesman George Little said Washington welcomes Poland's support for European missile defense, noting Warsaw was the first country to establish a ballistic missile defense agreement with the United States.

Moscow said it was frustrated with U.S. missile plans close to its western border. Washington said the planned deployment is meant as a deterrent to Iranian threats.

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