The Armament Inspectorate of the Polish Ministry of Defence has just announced the launch of technical dialogue concerning the acquisition of 32 support helicopters, codename Perkoz. The aircraft are to be used for combat support, transport of troops and equipment, and in both ELINT and C2 roles. Tender submissions would be accepted by the end of May 2020.
According to the information released by the Armament Inspectorate, the Perkoz helicopters are to be procured in 3 variants:
-- Combat support/advanced training variant;
-- Command variant;
-- Reconnaissance and EW variant.
The details would be provided to the entities that would be approved to participate in the dialogue, in the form of an RFI. The ability to transport five soldiers with a full kit or 1,000 kg of cargo is the sole requirement that has been made public to date. The training capability requirement would require suppliers to deliver aircraft with dual controls and two engines. The ability to carry out close support and recce missions means that the new helicopters should also be able to carry weapons, opto-electronic sensors and a targeting suite.
The dialogue that has been planned for July to December 2020 is to cover the following matters of key importance:
-- Assessment whether the aircraft offered meet the preliminarily defined requirements;
-- Estimates pertaining to the cost of procurement, operation, and withdrawal;
-- Procurement timeline estimation;
-- Determination of conditions pertaining to delivery, training, and logistics;
-- Definition of handing-off and QA procedures pertaining to the military equipment in question;
-- Option of maintaining or establishing maintenance and servicing and manufacturing potential, should the task fall within the Basic National Security Interest category.
According to the requirements outlined, the Perkoz program is aimed at replacing the Mi-2 helicopters stationed at the 41st Training Aviation Base. These rotary-wing assets are used to train helicopter pilots at the Air Force Academy in Dęblin. They are also used for advanced training and other missions at the operational units.
It is noteworthy that the Mi-2 helicopters celebrated their 50th service anniversary in 2017. The quantity of those aircraft is being constantly reduced, as they are reaching the end of their lifecycles. Notably, in the early days of 2019, the Polish Ministry of Defence said that due to the prioritized implementation of the Kruk attack helicopter program, the Perkoz program was not included in the 2017-2026 Technical Modernization Plan. This is also the probable reason why Poland did not follow up the technical dialogue with industry begun in September 2018 for the modernization of the W-3WA Sokół helicopters.
Opening talks on the procurement of 32 Perkoz helicopters may be a symptom of another change in the decision-making process at the MoD. The urgent requirement to procure the Mi-2 replacement, the COVID-19 pandemic crisis, and the F-35 acquisition may all mean that the Sokół platform will not be upgraded, while the Kruk acquisition would be postponed.