WARSAW, Poland — Poland's armed forces are to acquire 16 new helicopters this year, according to the country's defense minister. Half will go to Poland's special forces and the remainder to the Navy.

The aircraft will include two Black Hawk helos, and the remaining 14 will be selected among offers that were submitted by Lockheed Martin, Leonardo and Airbus Helicopters, Antoni Macierewicz told local news outlet Polish Press Agency.

"I was told that [the two Black Hawks] will be delivered this March," Macierewicz said. "All the paperwork had to be consulted across the Atlantic. This significantly delayed the procedure."

The aircraft will replace Poland's Soviet-designed Mil Mi-8, Mi-14 and Mi-17 helicopters.

Last year, the government announced that it ended negotiations over a potential acquisition of 50 Caracal helos from Airbus under a deal worth about 13.5 billion zloty (U.S. $3.3 billion). The helo tender was relaunched shortly after this, and the ministry accepted new offers by Lockheed Martin, Airbus Helicopters and Leonardo. 

The Black Hawk is produced by Lockheed Martin's Polish subsidiary PZL Mielec, and Leonardo's Polish offshoot PZL Swidnik, which makes the AW149 helicopter.

From 2017 to 2022, the Defense Ministry aims to spend more than 61 billion zloty to acquire new weapons and military equipment. The largest possible share of contracts is to be awarded to companies that produce their gear in Poland, according to ministry officials.

Jaroslaw Adamowski is the Poland correspondent for Defense News.

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