Poland is continuing its plan to update its army's rotorcraft fleet with the launch of a procurement process covering the acquisition of as many as 40 attack helicopters.
Warsaw is already running a keenly-contested competition for a tri-service order of 70 multi-role transport helicopters and this latest move will only intensify airframers' interest in the country.
Intended to replace the Polish land force's fleet of 29 Mil Mi-24D/Vs, the attack helicopters were originally scheduled to be delivered from 2020.
However, statements from Poland's ministry of national defence issued on 8 July indicate an accelerated timeline, without offering specifics.
The procurement – known as the "Raven programme" – will be conducted in two phases, the ministry says. Initial scoping work will help define the requirement, before proceeding to a more detailed market study which may include dialogue with bidders.
Airbus Helicopters – already offering its EC725 Caracal for the transport requirement – will pitch the latest HAD version of its Tiger attack type, says Dominique Maudet, executive vice-president, global business and services. He believes the eventual purchase will amount to between 30-40 rotorcraft.
The airframer has already indicated it will partner with local companies to create the final assembly line for the EC725 helicopters and their Turbomeca Makila 2A powerplants, and a further contract win would only add to critical mass at the plants.
Although the two contests are not linked, says Maudet, they do offer Poland the chance to align itself more closely with the rest of Europe's aerospace industry.
"We would put all our efforts into developing the country both in terms of the capability of its armed forces and from an industrial and business perspective," he says.
Maudet additionally stresses the interoperability of the two types, which have been combat tested during deployments with the French armed forces in both Afghanistan and Somalia.
Potential bidders have until 1 August to respond, with a detailed request for information to be issued at a later date.
AgustaWestland – already present in Poland through its PZL Świdnik subsidiary – is expected to offer the AW129, while Boeing is likely to pitch its AH-64E Apache.
Warsaw in early June issued a request for proposals covering the transport helicopter acquisition. Bids must be received by 30 September, ahead of a decision by year-end.
Alongside Airbus Helicopters’ EC725, AgustaWestland is pitching the AW149 while Sikorsky is offering locally-produced S-70I Black Hawks assembled by its PZL Mielec unit.
Additional reporting by Bartosz Glowacki in Warsaw