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Boeing bolsters Apache team for Polish contest

Boeing has strengthened its industry team offering the AH-64E Apache in Poland's Kruk attack helicopter competition, after signing an agreement with local firm PGZ.

"PGZ is our principal defence industrial co-operation partner," said Gene Cunningham, vice-president, global sales for Boeing Defense, Space & Security, at the MSPO exhibition in Kielce. "The agreement validates our long-term commitment to working with Polish industry, while demonstrating industrial co-operation that supports Poland's national security goals of developing independent defence capabilities."

Under the pact, Boeing and PGZ will explore opportunities to support, sustain and upgrade equipment and integrate unique Polish systems onto the AH-64E. It also seeks to incorporate PGZ companies into the US manufacturer's supply chain and strengthen their manufacturing capabilities.

Jakub Skiba, president of the PGZ management board, describes the letter of intent's signature as "another step aimed at building a service and modernisation base for the combat helicopter that might be selected in the Kruk programme." He adds: "It is crucial for us to have autonomy in maintaining the efficiency of helicopters throughout the course of their service, because that is one of the key factors that will reduce life-cycle costs and expand the competence of our workforce and facilities."

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Cunningham notes that Poland could buy its new attack helicopters via the US government's Foreign Military Sales mechanism, taking advantage of a multi-year procurement arrangement with the US Army and other export customers. A first Apache could be delivered to Poland within 32-36 months of a contract being signed, he adds, while noting that introducing unique systems to the aircraft would extend this schedule.

Other likely contenders for the Kruk requirement include the Airbus Helicopters Tiger, Bell AH-1Z and Turkish Aerospace T129. Warsaw has outlined a requirement to acquire 32 aircraft to replace its ageing Mil Mi-24s, with deliveries expected from 2022.

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