KIELCE, Poland — Following Leonardo’s deal in April with Poland under which the country ordered four AW101 helicopters, the company aims to secure a deal for the supply of AW249 helicopters under the country’s much-awaited combat helicopter tender.
The Italian firm’s AW101 deal is worth about 1.65 billion zloty (U.S. $414.65 million), and it hopes its manufacturing presence in Poland, where it operates a facility in Swidnik, will give it an advantage toward obtaining a larger contract for combat helos, which would be purchased under the Kruk (Crow) program.
“We’re committed to delivering the ordered AW101s in 2022, and we’re considering the possibility of expanding the contract by further helicopters for the Polish Navy,” Marco Lupu, the president of local subsidiary Leonardo Poland, told Defense News at the MSPO defense industry show.
“For the Kruk program, we’d like to offer the AW249. [Its development] was funded by the Italian Ministry of Defence to replace the A129 Mangusta. It’s expected to have its first flight in 2020 to 2021, and reach full operational capacity by 2025,” Lupu added.
Under the Polish Defence Ministry’s technical modernization program, the country’s Air Force is to acquire an estimated 32 combat helos in the coming years. The first squadron of aircraft is expected to be delivered by 2026.
Earlier this year, the ministry inked a deal to acquire four S-70i Black Hawk helos from Lockheed Martin subsidiary Sikorsky for the Polish special forces.
In 2015, the government decided to order 50 H225M Caracal helicopters from Airbus, but the contract was canceled the following year after a change of government leadership.