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A US unmanned aerial vehicle detachment in Poland becomes fully operational. The USAF MQ-9 based in Poland will begin flying over the Baltics to give the US and NATO better early warning, as well as a better understanding of the potential battlespace, as the alliance pushes to further deter Russia.

The MQ-9 manufactured by General Atomics is the first tactical combat UAV designed for long-endurance, high-altitude surveillance.

The US Air Force has achieved the full operational capability of the MQ-9 remotely piloted aircraft detachment at Miroslawiec Air Base, Poland. Some of the facilities recently opened included secure processing centers, a large aircraft maintenance shelter, communications infrastructure and living dormitories for personnel assigned there.

Contractors and U.S. military now share control during operations such as the takeoff, mission, and recovery of the aircraft. Currently, the Air National Guard is the U.S. military presence operating the aircraft there, provides intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance in support of U.S. foreign policy security. The currently configured unarmed aircraft provides valuable force protection data to the U.S. and international partners.

Gen. Tod Wolters, commander of USAFE and commander of Allied Air Command, said this new base helps address NATO’s constant need of improved indications and warnings, along with command and control to improve the ability to “neutralize a potential adversary.”

The Air Force, and broader US military, have been increasing the funding for the European Deterrence Initiative, which goes to military construction at bases across the continent and to improved readiness exercises, according to uasvision.com.

The MQ-9s in Poland will begin flying in the “vicinity of the Baltics” and that’s an “improvement in readiness right there” by putting “more eyes on the potential battlespace,” Wolters said. The goal with an improved posture in the region is to be in a position where “nobody will ever consider violating the sovereign skies, lands, and seas of NATO countries in the region,” he said.