By By Andrew Drwiega, International Bureau Chief | October 2, 2014
|AgustaWestland AW 149. Photo by Andrew Drwiega|
In early September, all three OEM competitors for the Polish military’s multirole helicopter requirement were able to present their offerings for review one last time at the Polish defense exhibition, MSPO, held in Kielce, Poland.
Sikorsky’s S-70i, which is already manufactured in Poland for international customers including the militaries of Brunei, Columbia, Mexico and Saudi Arabia, is competing against AgustaWestland’s AW149 and Airbus Helicopters’ EC725 Caracal.
“Sikorsky invested $500 million in its supply chain last year,” Caroline Vandedrinck, vice president Europe, Russia and Central Asia told Rotor & Wing in an interview prior to MSPO.
With a decision expected from the Polish government by the end of 2014, Sikorsky has been doing the groundwork to prove its commitment to the country. “This is not just about production at the factory. We are looking for partners within the Polish industry and would be extending work offers to those companies,” said Vandedrinck, adding that Sikorsky already held its own supplier conference in January. “We brought our suppliers to Poland and introduced them to Polish suppliers. Twenty of our suppliers joined us, including Rockwell Collins, GE, Honeywell and Telephonics.”
|Airbus Helicopters EC725. Photo by Andrew Drwiega|
Airbus Helicopters’ approach at the show was to push both its EC725 and its EC665 Tiger HAD as a dual option for the Polish armed forces. The company enlisted the assistance of French army personnel to support its view of the interoperability of both platforms. They have both been deployed to Afghanistan and Mali.
“They are perfectly adapted to the modern and asymmetric wars we face today,” commented General Olivier de la Motte, head of French Army Aviation.
|Sikorsky S-70i. Photo by Andrew Drwiega|
However, Airbus Helicopters will have to create assembly and servicing facilities for any military order it receives. During MSPO, Airbus Helicopters and the Pomeranian Special Economic Zone in GdaÃ âsk inked an accord to allow the company to work with the GdaÃ âsk University of Technology (GUT) to develop diagnostics which are aimed at further increasing the value of Health and Usage Monitoring Systems (HUMS) onboard helicopters.
AgustaWestland’s offer of its AW149 will be built at PZL-Ã Å¡widnik’s facility, should it be the winner. The plant already has a workforce of several thousand and has been involved in helicopter production and support for over 60 years.
The AW149 is the newest offering of the three competitors, having just gained its military certification from the Italian Directorate of Air Armaments (ARMAEREO) this past July.