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MQ-9 Reaper made an emergency landing near Mirosławiec

The Polish Armed Forces General Command announced an emergency landing of an American unmanned aerial vehicle near Mirosławiec, during a scheduled flight in Polish airspace.

As announced on social media by the General Command of the Armed Forces (DG RSZ), on Monday after 11:00 PM, near Mirosławiec, there was an emergency landing of an unmanned aerial vehicle belonging to the United States Armed Forces, which was flying in Polish airspace. The landing occurred according to procedures in a secured uninhabited area. The site has been secured by authorities, and the investigation is being conducted by the Polish Military Gendarmerie.

Photo: 12th Unmanned Aerial Vehicles Base

An earlier post announced: The unarmed MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aerial vehicle of the United States Air Force in Europe, conducting a scheduled quarterly training at the airport in Mirosławiec, lost communication with the base. Emergency landing is awaited. Services have been placed on standby.

The General Command of the Armed Forces did not provide the reason for the loss of communication with the aircraft. On one hand, it could have been a hardware or software malfunction, and on the other hand, deliberate jamming or interference (electronic warfare). Especially since December of last year, regular disruptions of the GNSS GPS satellite navigation signal have been recorded over northern Poland, the southern Baltic Sea, and southern Sweden (and recently over Latvia and Estonia), and according to independent experts, the sources of interference may be located in the Kaliningrad Oblast of the Russian Federation.

Interestingly, on March 14th of this year, the British newspaper The Times of London reported that a Dassault 900LX government aircraft, carrying Grant Shapps, the British Secretary of State for Defence, flying to a meeting with his Polish counterpart, was disrupted during its flight near the Kaliningrad Oblast. On March 17th, the British Ministry of Defense confirmed these revelations.

Disruptions are also reported by civilian carriers. However, according to the Polish Air Navigation Services Agency (PANSA), despite the disruptions, aviation operations over Poland are safe. Meanwhile, since February 5th, a navigational warning has been in effect for users of airspace over northern and eastern Poland.

Reapers In Poland

Since May 21, 2018, the Detachment 2 of the 52nd Expeditionary Operations Group (52nd EOG), from the German Spangdahlem, has been stationed at the 12th Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Base (12. BSPP) in Mirosławiec, with two MQ-9A Reaper UAVs.

The unit achieved full operational readiness on March 1, 2019. The aircraft carry out patrol and reconnaissance missions over the eastern flank of NATO, including the Baltic states, in close cooperation with the Polish Air Force, operating 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. In July 2019, they were temporarily relocated to the 71st Air Base General Emanoil Ionescu (Baza 71 Aeriană) in Câmpia Turzii in the Romanian district of Cluj, due to runway repair and expansion works in Mirosławiec. Then, in July 2020, they were moved under the same conditions to the Estonian Ämari Air Base.

The 12th Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Base, also holds a Polish aerial unit equipped with two MQ-9A Reaper UAVs leased from the USA (to be replaced in the future by ordered MQ-9B SkyGuardian), as well as 24 Baykar Bayraktar TB2 UAVs purchased from Turkey (18 of which have been delivered so far). The former are used for acquiring reconnaissance data in the field of imagery intelligence (IMINT) through the use of optoelectronic sensors and in the field of signals intelligence (SIGINT), while the latter can also carry out combat missions using precision guided air-to-ground ammunition.



At 1:00 PM, a press conference was held in front of the General Command of the Armed Forces headquarters with the participation of the Air Force Inspector, Major General Ireneusz Nowak. He informed that the loss of control over the unarmed aircraft occurred during a training flight from Romania to Poland:

It was supposed to test and perform landing approaches at the Mirosławiec airport using the so-called automatic takeoff and landing system. It was flying from the base in Romania. Around 6:00 PM, we received information that control over the aircraft had been lost. In short, the crew that was controlling this aircraft from the ground and was located in Romania was unable to continue these operations, said Maj. Gen. Nowak. An attempt was made to transfer the control to another station located in Mińsk Mazowiecki and to take over the control by the operators from Mińsk Mazowiecki. That attempt failed. Therefore, a decision was made to conduct an attempt of forced landing.

From the moment we knew that the American crew had lost control of the aircraft, we knew we had about four and a half hours to prepare. All necessary procedures were initiated in such a case. The Police, Fire Brigade, local authorities, and above all, the military gendarmerie were notified. The area of the potential forced landing of the aircraft was secured. It was known that there were no people there, no one who could be harmed. Everything was under control, added the general.

About 10 minutes before 11:00 PM, the aircraft exhausted all its remaining fuel. After about 10 minutes of gliding, it landed precisely in the area where we expected it to. It was located approximately nine minutes after landing. Since then, the landing site has been secured. Procedures are being carried out because, as I mentioned, the aircraft belonged to the American side. The Polish Armed Forces are not the owners of this aircraft, so the investigating activities will be conducted by the American side, of course with the assistance of Polish specialists, pointed out the Air Force Inspector. We want to verify our safety procedures and improve them if necessary. However, in this case, from what we can see at first glance, everything worked very correctly.

When asked by journalists whether the incident was caused by GPS signal interference, he replied:

In the current security situation, all possible causes will be investigated. There are many possible reasons. There has been much speculation in the media about GPS signal interference. However, I can tell you that at first glance, it wasn’t about GPS, because the aircraft – although autonomously and in so-called backup mode – was still flying along a pre-planned route. This is a task for the authorities, for specialists, and here we do not exclude any cause, all will be investigated.


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