Poland has become the third NATO nation – following Italy and the UK – to field Leonardo Helicopters’ AW101 in a dedicated maritime configuration.
On 8 December, a lead example was transferred to the Polish navy’s Gdynia Naval Aviation Brigade in Darlowo, where the rotorcraft will be based.
In April 2019, Leonardo received a contract from Poland’s Ministry of National Defence, valued at roughly €380 million, for four AW101s. To replace obsolete Mil Mi-14s, they will perform a range of missions, including anti-submarine warfare and combat search and rescue (CSAR).
All four of Warsaw’s AW101s were flown to PZL Swidnik’s facilities from Leonardo’s Yeovil assembly site in the UK, with two arriving in August and others in early December. In Polish service they will be assigned the registrations 6201 to 6204.
The rotorcraft are equipped with mission systems including an autopilot with SAR modes, plus data transmission and tactical navigation equipment, and a self-protection suite.
Other features include a tactical radio, reconnaissance radar, electro-optical/infrared sensor and the Thales-supplied Flash dipping sonar. The platform also will be armed with a 12.7mm machine gun, and be capable of carrying underslung loads.
For SAR duties, the AW101 has a searchlight, two rescue hoists, and medical and rescue equipment. It also features emergency floatation gear.