Eurocopter Eyes Brazilian Business Model To Meet Polish Helo Need
By Amy Svitak, Anthony Osborne
Source: Aerospace Daily & Defense Report
Under the Polish tender, AgustaWestland is offering the AW149 utility helicopter and Sikorsky its S-70i International Black Hawk. Eurocopter contends neither helicopter is battle-proven, and the EC725 is closest in size to the helicopters that Poland’s armed forces fly today. Sikorsky argues otherwise, pointing out that the S-70i is a customized version of the UH-60M, which has been used by the U.S. Army in Afghanistan.
WZL 1 was established in 1945 to perform overhaul work for the Polish air force. Today the company works out of an annex of Lodz airport performing maintenance and overhaul work on Polish military helicopters including the Mi-2, the Mi-8/17 Hip, Mi-14 Haze and the Mi-35 Hind, as well as the U.S.-built Kaman SH-2G SeaSprite, which is in service in small numbers with the Polish navy. EADS also gained a foothold in Poland after it took over PZL Warsawa-Okecie in 2001. The company previously built the Orlik turboprop trainer but is now an aerostructures specialist.
Poland’s new helicopter requirement is potentially one of the largest rotary-wing tenders seen in Europe for decades. While the order for 70 on its own is significant, the Polish also hope to purchase a new fleet of attack helicopters to replace the aging Mi-24 Hind, in addition to 24 heavy transport helicopters capable of carrying 30 troops or 5,000 kg (11,000 lb.) of payload.
Poland’s armed forces currently operate some 250 rotary-wing helicopters, the majority being Russian or Polish-built, although the navy does operate a handful of Kaman SH-2G Super SeaSprites.