Poland Accelerates Acquisition of the Attack Helicopters
(Source: Defence24.com Poland; published April 23, 2015)
Poland’s second helicopter replacement program calls for the procurement of modern attack helicopters to replace the Russian-supplied Mi-35 Hind. The number that will be procured will depend on their price. (MON photo)
Czesław Mroczek, Secretary of State of the Polish Ministry of Defence, stated that the decision regarding selection of the attack helicopter, in the Kruk (Raven) programme, will be made within a “few” months. Assets that would be needed to acquire the new helicopters would come from other modernization programmes, at least to some extent. When it comes to replace the Mi-17s, another tender will be prepared for the procurement of about 20 additional helicopters.

Mroczek admitted that the amount of money needed to procure the assault helicopters replacing the Mi-24 will ultimately be higher than the sum indicated in the technical modernization plan. The secretary stressed the fact that financial conditions will be one of the factors that are going to have an impact on the number of the acquired helicopters.

“We will define, as we have said before, the quantity in a way that would not have an impact on other plans, because the amount indicated in the technical modernization plan is, in essence, an initial amount. In other words, it is not the amount needed to secure the procurement of these helicopters, but it is an amount which would let us at least include them in the plan. Thus it does not cover even 50% of the costs in our estimation, in comparison with the required amount.”

During his meeting with journalists, Mroczek also stated that the value of the multi-role helicopter deal is higher than it was initially estimated by the Ministry of Defence during the preparation phase. This, added to the need to accelerate the procurement of the attack helicopters, resulted in the number of the acquired rotorcraft being reduced to 50.

Prices of the offers for the multirole helicopters are comparable, in fact quite close, but in comparison with our estimates, the amounts are higher, Mroczek said referring to the multi-role helicopter offers.

Initially, the MoD’s priority was to replace the helicopters that must be replaced because their service life was coming to an end -- the Mi-8s -- or to acquire specialized types that would provide new capabilities.

The Polish Army is to use, for transport purposes, the Mi-17 helicopters, at least until 2026-2027 when a new tender will be arranged in order to replace them with about 20 new helicopters which, by implication, might not necessarily be additional Caracals.

More Details on Multirole Helicopters

The Defence Ministry also released additional information about its decision to accept Airbus Helicopters’ offer for the H225M (formerly EC-725) Caracal for a detailed evaluation. Poland, unlike most other countries, selects a preferred candidate and then tests it to verify that it can, in effect, perform as claimed by its manufacturer.

Poland plans to buy a total of 50 Caracals, including 16 in multi-role/transport variant and the remaining 34 in specialized mission configurations. The contract value is estimated to be worth about PLN 13 billion.

The H225M Caracal offer was qualified for the next stage of the tender, but the competing offers were rejected, Mroczek said, for formal reasons. The consortium formed by Sikorsky and PZL Mielec did not include the combat systems in its offer, he said, while PZL Świdnik offered initial delivery of the first helicopters four years after contract signature, and not 2 year as the Ministry of Defence required.

The evaluation procedures will be completed in the autumn of 2015, and in the meantime the offset agreement is to be negotiated.

The Caracal test programme, according to MoD spokesperson Col. Jacek Sońta, will be divided into two parts. “Firstly, before the agreement is signed, the verification procedure will be carried out, and secondly, at the moment when the first examples of the helicopters are delivered, we will carry out the test proper.”

Sońta stressed that, when it comes to the test programme of the multi-role helicopters, the details are confidential. However, it is clear that the tests will take place at one of the Polish airbases.

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