Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Poland to Consider Buying Israeli Drones

Poland is considering buying drones from Israel, Defence Minister Bogdan Klich said Aug. 12, after Warsaw's announcement that it was bolstering its deployment in Afghanistan.Klich told reporters he had recently traveled to Israel to visit arms manufacturers."Three companies there produce top-quality pilotless aircraft," he said."Without predicting which of the three - or even another, non-Israeli firm - will win the tender, I can't imagine that we'll buy them one by one. We're going to buy a whole range of drones, from short- to medium-range," he added.Poland currently has 2,000 soldiers in Afghanistan fighting Taliban-led militants under the banner of the NATO-run International Security Assistance Force, which draws together around 64,500 troops from more than 40 nations.Drones, armed with lethal missiles and controlled by a "pilot" using a joystick at bases in the U.S. and elsewhere, have become an American weapon of choice in the fight against the militants.On Aug. 10, one Polish soldier was killed and four were injured during a clash in Afghanistan's central province of Ghazni. It was Warsaw's 10th fatality since it first sent troops to Afghanistan in 2002.On Tuesday, Poland said it had created a back-up force of 200 soldiers ready for deployment in Afghanistan.Poland, a former communist country turned staunch ally of Washington, joined NATO in 1999 and has over the years gradually upgraded its military equipment.

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