Arms regulators in Washington have given approval to a $12 billion request by Poland to purchase 96 Boeing AH-64E Apache attack helicopters.

The US Department of State on 21 August said “the proposed sale will improve Poland’s capability to meet current and future threats by providing a credible force that is capable of deterring adversaries and participating in NATO operations”. 

AH-64 Apache Alaska

Source: US Army

Poland is in the midst of a defence spending boom, acquiring multiple types of fighter aircraft and precision munitions in addition to attack helicopters

US diplomatic officials note Poland will have “no difficulty” absorbing the new fleet of attack helicopters into its armed forces. The heavily-armed aircraft will not alter the basic balance of power in Europe, the state department says, a basic requirement of any US arms sale.

The Apache deal will include the advanced sensors and optics that make the AH-64E lethally effective, including target acquisition sights, night vision sensors and multiple fire control radars.

An arsenal of precision munitions will also be sold with the helicopters, including 1,844 Lockheed Martin AGM-114 Hellfire missiles, 460 Lockheed Joint Air-to-Ground Missiles and 508 Raytheon FIM-92 Stinger anti-air missiles.

Warsaw announced its intention to make the Apache purchase in 2022. The Polish government selected the AH-64 over Bell’s AH-1Z Viper attack helicopter.

The nearly-100 AH-64s are meant to replace Poland’s current fleet of 30 Soviet-era Mil Mi-24/35 helicopters.

In May, the US Army announced it would send Poland eight Apaches from the service’s own stock as a means of more rapidly fielding the attack aviation capability.

Training of Polish aircrew began in August, according to defence minister Mariusz Blaszczak.

“Immediately after the end of the training, the first eight machines will be equipped with the Polish army,” Blaszczak said.

That effort is not expected to be complete before the end of the year.

Poland has also initiated procurement efforts for 32 S-70i Armed Black Hawks via Sikorsky subsidiary PZL Mielec and 26 AW101 and 32 AW149 multi-role rotorcraft from Leonardo Helicopters.