Poland Scraps Big Airbus Helicopters Contract

 - October 5, 2016, 7:27 AM
Two more EC725 helicopters are going to the Thai air force, as seen here. But Poland scrapped a much bigger order for 50. (Photo: Airbus Helicopters)

Poland has scrapped the planned purchase of 50 Airbus Helicopters EC725 Caracels, after offset negotiations failed. An official statement from Warsaw said that the contractor did not meet the economic interests and security of the Polish state. Meanwhile, Airbus Helicopters reported better news about Thailand, which has ordered two additional EC725s, and about Mexico, which took delivery of its first AS365 Mbe, a new version of the Panther. 

The country selected the EC725 in April of last year in preference to the Sikorsky S-70 or AgustaWestland (now Leonardo Helicopters) AW149. The choice was controversial, since the latter two manufacturers already had local industrial partnerships, with PZL Mielec and PZL Swidnik, respectively. Airbus Helicopters said it would work with its Polish distributor Heli Invest to create a final assembly line for the EC725s alongside its R&D center at Lodz. Airbus Helicopters now markets the EC725 as the H225M, but is still using the former designation in recent statements.

The Polish government sought offsets worth at least the value of the contract, which it said yesterday was worth 13.5 billion Zloty ($3.5 billion). But the talks faltered, especially after the election of a new government late last year.

The Royal Thai Air Force has ordered two additional EC725s, making a total of eight. Four have already been delivered, with two more due this year. The Mexican Navy is another repeat customer. Its first Panthers were delivered 10 years ago. It is buying 10 AS565 Mbe versions, which have uprated Safran Arriel 2N engines, a four-axis autopilot, and a new main gearbox and tail rotor.