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Polish Army Plans Purchase of 26 Helicopters

Polish Army Plans Purchase of 26 Helicopters

The Polish army is planning to strengthen its aviation capabilities by purchasing 26 helicopters for the price of zł.3 billion. The tender for the new helicopters will be held this autumn.

At least three major players intend to bid for the contract: American firm Sikorsky Aircraft, Italian-British AgustaWestland and the French-German Eurocopter. The firms control about one-third of the market worldwide.

The army plans to order an additional 100 helicopters after 2018, and experts say that the winner of this autumn’s tender would be in a strong position to provide those as well.

Grzegorz Sobczak, editor-in-chief of Skrzydlata Polska, an aviation magazine, said the 26 helicopters will be “just enough to deal with the Polish army’s current needs.” He said the army needs “much more” and hopes some of those needs will be addressed during the next round of acquisitions.

As to who will win the contract for the 26 helicopters, Mr Sobczak said it depends on the bidding criteria.

“If the Defense Ministry is bent on the helicopters being produced in Poland, then Sikorsky Aircraft and AgustaWestland will be favorites, since they have factories in Poland, while Eurocopter has a minimal presence in Poland.”

He added that Sikorsky Aircraft’s Black Hawk helicopter was the best known and the “most tested” of the helicopters, but that AgustaWestland’s AW149 boasted a “more modern” construction.

The ministry also announced early this year that it intends to spend around zł.1.5 billion on additional engines and equipment, plus ammunition for its F-16s.

The purchase of the new helicopters is part of the government’s plan to modernize the armed forces. Defense Minister Tomasz Siemoniak told WBJ, “The Polish Armed Forces are in the process of comprehensive transformation and modernization. Our aim is to make them modern and ready to respond to the challenges of today and tomorrow.”

Source: Warsaw Business Journal News - 03 September 2012

Photo: Polish Army AgustaWestland’s AW149 (above) will compete with Eurocopter’s EC725 and Sikorky’s Black Hawk for a $900M Polish order for an initial 26 helicopters. (Photo by AW photo)


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