Deal due to be signed this week will enable Polish industry to become a centre for overhauling Russian equipment

A warming in relations between Poland and Russia is opening the way for future technical co-operation, with an agreement expected to be signed this week during Russian defence minister Sergei Ivanov's visit to Warsaw.

The first hint of a Polish-Russian rapprochement came last month when Polish deputy minister of defence Janusz Zemke travelled to Moscow, the first visit since 1993.

Once the two governments have initialled a deal, contracts will be signed between interested companies. Poland's three military overhaul organisations at Bydgoszcz (fixed wing), Lodz (helicopters) and Warsaw (engines) will participate in the programme.

A team from RSK MiG has visited Poland and approved MiG-29 overhaul activities at Bydgoszcz, which were developed without the Russian company's involvement in the late 1990s. The approval means Russia will now start deliveries of spares and Klimov RD-33 engines. Lack of spares has grounded more than half of the Polish air force's 22 MiG-29s.

The agreement will also affect the proposed upgrade of Mil Mi-24 Hind attack helicopters by the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia.

Poland is leading the programme and will now seek the documentation to begin the structural life extension, increasing service life to 35 years, as well as to integrate new avionics and weapons.

The deal may also be extended to cover the engine and dynamic systems improvement sought by the Czecharmy. A lack of agreement with Russia had been slowing the deal.

Source: Flight International