Polish Army Plans Purchase of 26 AW149 Helicopters
Poland plans to spend $3 billion on multirole military helicopters for its armed forces in the near future, local paper Rzeczpospolita reported on Friday, with a new competition replacing an earlier tender.
The main candidates for the deal are America's Sikorsky offering its S-70 Blackhawk, Franco-German Eurocopter, and AgustaWestland with its AW149.
"The armed forces want to buy 70 helicopters, and not 26 as planned previously. A tender wil be completed by the end of the year and a deal should be signed by May 2013," Deputy Defense Minister Valdemar Skrzypczak said.
An earlier tender announced on 29 March, set out a requirement for 16 tactical transports for the land forces, four anti-submarine warfare (ASW) and three maritime search and rescue (SAR) helicopters for the navy and three search and rescue examples for the air force, all using one type of helicopter.
A decision on the purchase will be signed by Defense Minister Tomasz Siemoniak at the end of October, after which technical consultations will take place with potential suppliers. Local production of the machines is likely to be one of the conditions of the tender, the paper says.
The deal could be Poland's largest ever military equipment buy after its 2003 purchase of American Lockheed F-16 fighters for 12 billion zloty ($3.08 billion).
Poland to Launch $3Bn Helicopter Tender (Warsaw Business Journal News - 28 September 2012)
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 - RIA Novosti News - 28 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)