Poland has planned that 32 attack helicopters will be acquired through the Kruk procurement programme. Nonetheless, the conclusions of the Strategic Defence Review document suggest that needs related to this type of armament bear even greater relevance, the Polish MoD says.
Requirements related to the modernization of the Mi-24 gunships are being developed in parallel to the Kruk procedures so as to maintain a proper level of capabilities, with the Hinds remaining in operation until their successor is acquired and introduced.
The information we have obtained from the Polish Ministry of Defence, concerning the Kruk attack helicopters acquisition programme, suggests that legal analyses are currently in progress, regarding the procurement method.
“The Armament Inspectorate is waiting for the assessment with regards to emergence of the “Basic National Security Interest”, which would influence further action plan ,” according to the Polish MoD’s media department.
Assigning a status of national security interest would speed up the process by avoiding a lengthy tendering procedure. It would also enable the MoD to indicate the preferred contractors and simplify the United States' involvement in the tender.
Both the AH-64E Apache Guardian and AH-1Z Viper gunships offered to Poland by Boeing and Bell respectively, are available solely as a part of the FMS programme. This is an intergovernmental (G2G) setting, with a rigid set of rules defining the shape of the procedure. Said rules often lack conformity with the tendering processes.
At the same time, the Polish MoD has been issuing statements and declarations concerning the acquisition, requirements, defining a number of different aspects in relation to the Kruk programme since mid-2016.
Modernization of the Mi-24 fleet is also considered to be a viable option. This was also confirmed by the Polish MoD along with the information on progress, or lack of progress, in the Kruk programme, that modernization of the Mi-24 attack helicopter is also being considered as a viable option.
The goal of such procedure would be to maintain operational capacity in case of the Polish Hinds at least until new Kruk-programme gunships are acquired are introduced. The release issued by the Ministry suggests that the General Command is currently analyzing options for a Hind Mid-life Upgrade.
Extending the lifetimes of the Mi-24, with simultaneous provision of anti-armour capacity to the helicopter in question, are, at the moment, a priority. Not only should the above be done for the sake of maintaining the operational capabilities of the Armed Forces within that scope, as relevance which is even more critical concerns the aircrew training.
The Polish Mi-24 do not use any ATGMs. Their armament consists of unguided rockets and a 12.7 mm machine gun. This renders the platform in question incapable of fighting tanks and of precisely striking most targets, especially the moving ones.
Furthermore, the spare parts inventory for the four-barrel machine guns is also limited, which means that there is a risk that another piece of ordnance would be lost. Other problems include obsolete avionics and optoelectronics, or weak performance of the old engines, especially in a hot and high operational setting.
The modernization process may be completed by the domestic entities, led by the WZL-1 facility based in Łódź. Last year, the factory was overhauling Senegalese Hinds, significantly enhancing their performance. The company also presented a modernization package for the Polish Hind and Hip (Mi-24 and Mi-17) platforms, during the last year’s MSPO defence salon organized in Kielce.
An upgrade as such would require, alongside funding, the administrator’s decisions concerning the scope of modifications that would concern armament, sensors or avionics. The above issue remains highly important within the context of installing the armament guidance systems.