Poland Signs for AW101s

 - April 26, 2019, 1:23 PM
Italy uses the AW101 for a variety of roles. This is the air force's CSAR variant. (photo: Leonardo)

Poland’s Ministerstwo Obrony Narodowej (MON, Ministry of National Defense) has signed a €380 million ($423 million) contract covering the supply of four Leonardo AW101 helicopters, plus a supporting package of integrated logistics and training. PZL-Swidnik is acting as the prime contractor. Leonardo’s wholly-owned subsidiary already plays a significant part in the AW101 production effort.

The April 26 announcement follows a deal that was concluded earlier in the month concerning a €90 million ($100 million) offset contract between Leonardo UK and the Polish MON, under which maintenance will be provided in Lodz by the Military Aviation Works No. 1 of the Polska Grupa Zbrojeniowa (PGZ, Polish Armament Group).

Deliveries of the AW101s are to be completed by 2022, after which the helicopters will be employed for anti-submarine warfare (ASW) and combat search and rescue (CSAR) duties. The Polish naval aviation brigade currently flies a handful of aging Mil Mi-14 “Haze” helicopters in the shore-based ASW and SAR roles from Darlowo and has applied some upgrades to keep them flying. The Airbus Helicopters H225M Caracal was originally intended to be the replacement, but in October 2016 the Polish government scrapped a deal to buy 50 aircraft for both air force and navy use. The Kaman SH-2G Seasprite is also in the inventory, based at Gdynia to provide an ASW capability to the navy’s two Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigates, but a report by the MON in May 2018 noted that the type might have to be withdrawn due to lack of spares and OEM support.

The AW101 deal was signed at PZL-Swidnik’s plant in the presence of Poland’s prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki and defense minister Mariusz B┼éaszczak. Leonardo’s CEO Alessandro Profumo was also present, noting that, “We are proud that the Polish MoD has confirmed its trust in Leonardo as one of its key partners to collaborate on national defense, to support the modernization of the armed forces and boost technological and industrial growth. We are committed to further reinforcing our presence and contribution to Poland, one of Leonardo’s home countries where we see significant collaboration opportunities in the future.”

To underline the company’s commitment to Poland, a new entity—Leonardo Poland—is being established in Warsaw with Marco Lupo as president. The new company will promote Leonardo’s portfolio in Poland, provide support to the customer throughout a program’s lifecycle, and tighten relations with customers and stakeholders.