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Airbus Helicopters intensifies compensation fight with Poland

Airbus Helicopters has stepped up its claims for compensation from the Polish government over the collapse in 2016 of negotiations related to the acquisition of 50 H225M Caracals for all three branches of its armed forces.

According to the Dziennik Gazeta Prawna newspaper, the French manufacturer has written to multiple government departments in Warsaw, and also the Polish prime minister, calling for international arbitration in the dispute.

In those letters the airframer claims that the Law and Justice party, which came to power in October 2015, entered the negotiations with the sole intention of sabotaging them.

Although Airbus Helicopters declines to comment on the report, FlightGlobal understands that the contents are not disputed.

The two sides have been holding discussions since mid-2017, but have been unable to reach an amicable conclusion.

The H225M was selected by the previous Polish administration for the requirement, in April 2015, beating rival offers from Leonardo Helicopters and Sikorsky and their respective local representatives, PZL Swidnik and PZL Mielec.

However, even before taking office, Polish defence minister Antoni Macierewicz made numerous statements criticising the selection of the Caracal, suggesting that it would not benefit the country's aerospace industry.

Airbus Helicopters planned to create a final assembly line for the H225M in Lodz, manufacturing Caracals both for Poland and in small numbers for the export market.

Negotiations over the final contract collapsed in October 2016 after the Polish ministry of economic development pulled the plug on talks, claiming that the manufacturer's offset proposal failed to match its $3.4 billion target.

Since then, Poland has been seeking a significantly smaller number of new helicopters; it plans to buy eight for special forces operations and eight for naval anti-submarine warfare and search and rescue missions.

Contracts for both deals are scheduled to be concluded in 2018, with deliveries beginning the following year, according to statements made in late 2017 by Macierewicz.

Airbus Helicopters has proposed the H225M for both requirements where it faces competition from the Leonardo Helicopters AW101 and Sikorsky S-70i Black Hawk and MH-60 Seahawk.

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