Tension stemming from the conflict in Ukraine is cited as a reason behind Poland’s announced intention to increase its defense spending up to two percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). In line with this it is fast-tracking helicopter programs within the Polish Ministry of Defence’s Technical Modernization Program 2013-2022.
According to the Polish Ministry of Defence, it is currently considering bids from 10 “foreign and domestic” helicopter manufacturers to replace its old fleet of Russian Helicopters Mi-24 attack helicopters.
Although the names of the bidders have not been announced, likely bidders are thought to include Boeing’s latest Apache AH-64E. Airbus Helicopter’s EC 665 Tiger and the Turkish Aerospace Industries T129 (made under license from AgustaWestland). Presumably Russian Helicopters would be bidding to retain Poland as a user of its equipment with potentially its upgraded Mi-35M, which would offer Poland a cheaper solution.
A Polish Mi-24 attack helicopter at an airshow in Poland. Photo by Voytek S, Wikimedia Commons
The Kruk (Raven) attack helicopter acquisition program aims to procure at least 32 modern helicopters to replace its Mil Mi-24D/W ‘Hind’ helicopters. The decision is now likely by 2015, around three years earlier than originally envisage.
This is in addition to another helicopter contract, the outcome of which is expected to be announced this year, for 70 medium lift utility helicopters. The competition is valued at up to $2.8 billion (€2.1 billion) with deliveries to begin in 2016 and be completed by 2022.
Defence Minister Tomasz Siemoniak stated that companies that build the utility helicopter in Po-land will be favored: Sikorsky, AugustaWestland and Airbus Helicopter are all positioning to meet this requirement. Sikorsky already manufactures its S-70i at PZL Mielec; AgustaWestland states that its AW149 offering would be produced at its PZL Swidnik facility; while Airbus Helicopters has an agreement with the Military Aviation Works at Ã ÂódÃ Âº to manufacture its EC725 Caracal.
It is likely that the Kruk program winner will also need to offer a similar arrangement.
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