Poland extends deadline for LIFT contest

Warsaw
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Poland has again delayed a decision in its contest to acquire 16 lead-in fighter trainer (LIFT) aircraft, with final offers now due to be delivered by 28 October.

Italy-based Alenia Aermacchi and Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) are respectively offering their M-346 and T-50P designs to meet the requirement. Responses had initially been sought by late July, and this deadline was then extended to 29 August, before the latest announcement.

"The additional two months will allow ministry of national defence experts to narrow down and refine the final specifications," said Marcin Idzik, Poland's undersecretary of state for armament and modernisation. "This [new] deadline is ultimate," he added.

 
© Alenia Aermacchi
The M-346 is in contention for the Polish LIFT contract

However, the deferral means a selection decision will not be made until after Poland's parliamentary elections, scheduled for 9 October. "Shifting the date of delivering bids is normal during strategic tenders," Alenia Aermacchi chief executive Giuseppe Giordo said during the International Defence Industry Exhibition (MSPO) in Kielce earlier this month. "We are ready to fulfil all Polish air force requirements."

 
© Lockheed Martin
Warsaw is being offered a variant of South Korea's T-50 trainer

KAI T-50 regional manager Jaenam Lee said: "KAI understands shifting the date for delivering bids. We believe that the newly-established Polish government will finalise the tender and choose a new aircraft in late 2011 or early 2012."

Additional reporting by Grzegorz Sobczak