Military

Airbus Speaks Out as Poland Visits Sikorsky Plant

By S.L. Fuller | October 13, 2016

Following Poland's decision to halt Airbus Helicopter and Polish Defense Ministry negotiations for the purchase of H225M Caracals, Poland Prime Minister Baeta Szydlo and Defense Minister Antoni Macierewicz met with Sikorsky/Lockheed Martin-subsidiary PZL Mielic on Monday.

According to a government news release, Macierewicz said at the meeting that talks will begin later this week and will conclude before the end of the year, with the first helicopter to be delivered later this year. Specifcs, however, were not included in the article. Also at the meeting was Polish Deputy Minister of Defense Bartosz Kownacki. He said that the offset Caracal talks ended because "they did not meet the security interests of the State."

On Tuesday, Airbus published what it called an "Open Letter to the Polish Prime Minister" signed by Airbus Helicopters CEO Guillaume Faury. Here, the French company told its side of the Caracal negotiation story, refuting certain allegations. Specifically, the claim that Poland ended talks in favor of a Poland-produced rotorcraft was refuted by the fact that Airbus "agreed to establish the first state-owned helicopter plant in Poland with WZL1 company, and in which Poland would have had a 90% stake."

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WZL-1, or Military Aviation Works No. 1, is a maintenance, repair and overhaul company based in Lodz, Poland. According to Airbus, an initial batch of Caracals would have been produced in France, by WZL-1 workers, to meet the expedited timeframe that the Polish government put forth. But a minimum of 50 Caracals would have been produced in Poland. Airbus also offered Poland the creation of a new production plant to manufacture rotor and transmission complex parts for all Airbus rotorcraft. This offer, which would have generated more than $258 million in its first 10 years after an investment of $95.5 million, was rejected by the Polish Ministry of Development.

As for meeting Poland's security interests, Airbus said its offer included 45 transfers of technologies answering to requirements specified by the Ministry of Defense and Ministry of Development to serve Poland's strategic security interests. It also promised at least 30 years MRO, manufacturing and transfer of source codes and licenses activity for the state. In August, Poland introduced new requirements, which Airbus acknowledged as impossible, as they were not compliant with European Union regulations.

Sikorsky was one of the original competitors for this Poland Defense deal, as was Leonardo.

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