Poland Opens Tender for New Multipurpose Helicopters
Contract Estimated at €360-720 Million for 26 Multi-Purpose Helicopters
Polish Defence Minister Tomasz Siemoniak has announced the opening of a tender for the purchase of new multi-purpose helicopters for all Polish service branches, according to local media accounts. As TOKFM radio station reported on Thursday, Mar. 29, Siemoniak said: “The tender will be opened today,” and described the move as a first step to replace the Polish Armed Forces’ ageing fleet of 250 Soviet-era helicopters.
The Polish Army currently operates a fleet of different Mil helicopter types, including 29 Mi-24 attack helicopters, as well as a considerable number of Mi-2, Mi-8 and Mi-17 transport helicopters. In addition, the inventory includes more than 30 W-3 Sokól multipurpose medium helicopters manufactured by Polish helicopter company PZL-Swidnik.
The value of the initial contract, which is expected to be the first of additional contracts for the replacement of the entire fleet, is estimated at PLN 1.5-3.0 billion (USD 480-960 million, EUR 360-720 million) and will be funded through the Ministry’s “Technical Modernisation Program”. The contract will allow for the purchase of multi-purpose helicopters for the Polish Land Forces, Navy and Air Force and will include logistic services, as well as a training package, including simulators.
According to an announcement by the Spokesman for the Polish Minister of National Defence (MND), Jacek Sonta, the country seeks to acquire four different configurations of helicopters within its “Combat support, logistics and VIP transport helicopter” programme. As outlined in the announcement, the MND plans to purchase the following helicopter versions in the 2009-2018 period:
• 16 helicopters for the Land Forces
- Multi-purpose transport configuration
• 7 helicopters for the Navy
- Anti-submarine configuration (4 helicopters)
- Search and rescue configuration (3 helicopters)
• 3 helicopters for the Air Force
- Search and rescue configuration
Delivery is anticipated to be completed by 2017. Further information about the Polish helicopter tender has been made available at the website of the MND’s Armament Inspectorate at http://goo.gl/2lmrA.
Media reports suggest that the Army will push for the production of its new helicopters in Poland, and two Polish aerospace manufacturers could benefit from this plan.
PZL Swidnik was acquired by AgustaWestland in 2010 and manufactures various aircraft and rotorcraft for military and civilian customers in Europe and the US. According to AFP, AgustaWestland expects to begin production of AW 109, AW 119 and AW 139 helicopters in Swidnik, in addition to providing parts for the AW 101 model.
Also headquartered in southern Poland, PZL Mielec has been part of Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation since 2007 and currently participates in the final assembly of S-70i Black Hawk helicopters, as well as the production of Black Hawk cabins.
The acquisition of these two companies by foreign companies has revived aerospace manufacturing in southern Poland, as highlighted by PZL Mielec CEO Janusz Zakrecki in late 2009: “Since PZL Mielec was acquired on March 16, 2007, Sikorsky has delivered on each of its broad commitments to the Government of Poland and its employees. The company has invested millions of dollars in fixed assets, environmental remediation, human resource training and transfer of technical expertise. In addition, the company has initiated a broad social package for PZL Mielec employees.”
Source: defpro.com | March 30, 2012
Photo: Polish Navy Aviation Mil Mi-17 transport helicopter. (Photo by Polish Navy)