WASHINGTON — The possibility of Poland purchasing Black Hawk helicopters from Lockheed Martin and AW149 helicopters from AgustaWestland has reemerged as the new defense minister there plans to decrease the amount of Caracal EC725 helicopters the country had planned to buy from Airbus Helicopters and look to other options.

And due to Antoni Macierewicz's move to reassess Poland's helicopter procurement plans, Lockheed Martin, having recently bought Black Hawk-manufacturer Sikorsky, stands to establish a larger footprint and stronger relationship with the Polish defense industry at a time when it hopes to also win missile defense system contracts in the country.

Sikorsky's local subsidiary PZL Mielec makes the Black Hawk, while AgustaWestland's PZL Swidnik offshoot produces the AW149.

The decision in December comes following the formation of Poland's new government in November by the conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party.

Last April, the previous Cabinet decided to order 60 multirole choppers from Airbus Helicopters to replace the Polish military's Soviet-designed Mil Mi-8, Mi-14 and Mi-17 helicopters.

"We respect the ongoing analysis process by the new Polish MoD as they reevaluate options for the Polish Multirole Helicopter program," Lockheed Martin spokesman Frans Jurgens told Defense News in a statement.

The company "remains ready to support the government of Poland with proven multi-role Black Hawk helicopters in a timely manner that can address Poland's urgent and compelling security requirements."

Buying Black Hawks would allow Poland to gain interoperability with US and NATO forces and would also "maximize" the contributions of Polish industry, Jurgens said.

Lockheed is committed to maintaining the Sikorsky PZL Mielec facility, he added, "which is now the largest European production plant owned by Lockheed."

The facility has fully functional airframe manufacturing, a final assembly production line, a completion center and flight operations with capacity to build 24 Black Hawks annually per year, Jurgens said.

"If asked, we could deliver helicopters to the Polish government dependent on unique configuration in less than 12 months from contract award," he said.

Poland's fresh look at the helicopter deal is welcome news to Connecticut Democrat Sen. Chris Murphy. Sikorsky is based in Stratford, Connecticut.

According to Murphy in a statement Thursday, there are new negotiations between Poland and Lockheed Martin for the sale of up to 70 Black Hawks.

Murphy said he met with former Polish defense minister Tomasz Siemoniak early last year to urge Poland to buy the Black Hawk helicopter.

"I will follow these negotiations closely, and do everything I can to help Sikorsky in this process because a new contract for 70 helicopters would mean billions of dollars in business for Sikorsky and more work for the skilled Stratford workers who have made the Black Hawk the international standard," Murphy said.

Email: jjudson@defensenews.com

Twitter: @JenJudson

Jen Judson is the land warfare reporter for Defense News. She has covered defense in the Washington area for 10 years. She was previously a reporter at Politico and Inside Defense. She won the National Press Club's best analytical reporting award in 2014 and was named the Defense Media Awards' best young defense journalist in 2018.