Poland nears lift-off in military helicopter contest

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All three contenders for an expected Polish military requirement for 26 new helicopters promoted their candidates at the MSPO exhibition in Kielce, southern Poland, as Warsaw moves closer to launching the delayed contest.

A detailed request for proposals had been expected in the spring of this year, but the defence ministry is now due to reach a decision about the tender by the end of September.

AgustaWestland subsidiary PZL-Świdnik displayed the fourth prototype of its parent company's AW149 at MSPO, while announcing details of an industrial team comprising 15 leading Polish manufacturers and research centres to support its bid.

"This helicopter, as well as other models like the AW119 or AW169, will be offered for Polish public services," says PZL-Świdnik president Mieczyslaw Majewski, who also cites an interior ministry need to replace its aged Mil Mi-2/Kania rotorcraft.

 

Bartosz Glowacki

Eurocopter displayed its EC725 (above), having dropped a previous proposal to offer the NH90 in conjunction with NH Industries partner AgustaWestland.

"After long discussions we have decided to promote the EC725, a combat-proven and cost-effective solution," says Olivier Michalon, Eurocopter's vice-president of sales and customer relations for Europe and central Asia. The company is talking to numerous local aviation and defence companies in a bid "to create a constellation of Polish factories working for Eurocopter programmes", he adds.

Sikorsky company PZL Mielec exhibited an S-70i International Black Hawk, which was handed over to Brunei's defence ministry during the show. "We have got some questions about offering the S-70i, not only for the Polish armed forces but also for paramilitary service," says Stanley Prusinski, director of Sikorsky Europe. "Our other product tailored for these purposes is the S-76D, and there is also the S-92, which could be suitable for Baltic Sea operations."

Sources suggest Poland's cross-service requirement of a common platform will be relaxed, enabling bidders to also offer models dedicated to anti-submarine warfare or search and rescue.