Poland has begun negotiations with three bidders as it looks to acquire 16 helicopters – eight for special forces missions and eight for anti-submarine warfare and maritime search and rescue operations.

The defence ministry in Warsaw says it has “invited the bidders” – thought to be Airbus Helicopters, Leonardo Helicopters and Sikorsky – to submit offers for the requirement.

“The helicopters for special forces, whose acquisition is the most urgent, will be negotiated during the first stage,” it says.

The naval helicopters will not be required until 2019, it says, but it might acquire them in two batches of four aircraft, depending on delivery timelines.

Both contests are considered as urgent operational requirements, allowing Poland to bypass some of the more lengthy procedures associated with military procurements.

However, the defence ministry is still insisting on offset requirements, which must be an “integral part of the contract”. These include the establishment of a repair and upgrade centre at Polish company WZL 1’s Lodz facility.

A previous deal with Airbus Helicopters for 50 H225Ms collapsed in October last year following protracted negotiations over offset.

Airbus Helicopters is likely to again pitch its Caracal for both requirements; Leonardo will offer the AgustaWestland AW149 to the special forces and AW101 for naval missions; while Sikorsky will bid the S-70i Black Hawk and S-70B Seahawk for the respective contests.

Source: FlightGlobal.com