French army soldiers clean a Eurocopter EC 665 Tiger in 2012 at the Kabul International airport in Afghanistan. (Alexander Klein / AFP)
WARSAW — Poland on Tuesday launched a tender for assault helicopters as part of its €33.6 billion drive to upgrade its Soviet-era military equipment.
Analysts estimate the tender, which is open until Aug. 1, to be worth nearly a €1 billion ($1.4 billion) and said Russia’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine had helped to accelerate the purchase.
The defense ministry did not specify the number of choppers it is planning to buy.
Likely contenders are Boeing with its Apache, Airbus with its Eurocopter Tiger and Anglo-Italian AgustaWestland with its AW-120 Mangusta.
The new contract comes on top of a tender launched in September 2013 for 70 multi-purpose helicopters worth an estimated €2.5 billion.
Companies seeking that deal — believed to be the largest of its kind in Europe — must guarantee they will build locally.
Both tenders are seen as a significant step in the Polish army’s drive to replace 250 Soviet-era helicopters.
Overall, Warsaw is planning to spend €33.6 billion to upgrade its military equipment over 10 years, including acquiring a national missile shield, armored personnel carriers, submarines and drones.
Legislation in force since 2001 has fixed defense spending here at 1.95 percent of the gross domestic product.
President Bronislaw Komorowski recently proposed raising that to 2 percent of output amid the escalation of conflict in Ukraine.
A former Soviet satellite state of 38 million, Poland joined NATO in 1999 a decade after shedding communism. It acceded to the European Union in 2004.