Poland’s Defense Minister Antoni Macierewicz has announced plans to decrease the amount of the Caracal EC725 helicopters the country is to acquire from Airbus Helicopters. This would allow the ministry to also purchase Black Hawk and AW149 helos from Sikorsky and AgustaWestland, respectively.
The decision comes following the forming of Poland’s new government in November by the conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party. Last April, the previous Cabinet decided to order 60 multi-role helos from Airbus Helicopters to replace the Polish military’s Soviet-designed Mil Mi-8, Mi-14 and Mi-17 copters.
“It is not of utmost importance to purchase several dozen helicopters on a single platform. It is true there are some urgent needs which need to be addressed as soon as possible, but we are talking here about eight, maybe 10 helicopters. But this will not cost us 13 billion zloty,” Macierewicz told pro-government news site Wpolityce.pl. “I’m deeply persuaded that we will reach an agreement with [Airbus Helicopters] and provide Poland-based plants with a chance to develop.”
Sikorsky’s local subsidiary PZL Mielec makes the Black Hawk, while AgustaWestland’s PZL Swidnik offshoot produces the AW149.
In 2016, Poland’s defense budget totals some 35.9 billion zloty (US $9 billion).
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