Poland signs EUR 1.75 bn deal to buy 32 new military helicopters

Poland on Friday signed a deal to buy 32 AW-149 multi-role military helicopters from Italian defence group Leonardo.

Polands Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Mariusz Błaszczak signs a contract for the purchase of 32 AW-149 multi-role military helicopters for the Polish army from Italian defence group Leonardo, in Świdnik, eastern Poland, on Friday, July 1, 2022.

Poland’s Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Mariusz Błaszczak signs a contract for the purchase of 32 AW-149 multi-role military helicopters for the Polish army from Italian defence group Leonardo, in Świdnik, eastern Poland, on Friday, July 1, 2022.PAP/Wojtek Jargiło

The contract was signed by Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Mariusz Błaszczak, Polish state news agency PAP reported. 

Slated for delivery between 2023 and 2029, the helicopters will be manufactured by Leonardo’s Polish unit, PZL Świdnik.  

EUR 1.75 bn, 32 helicopters

Błaszczak told reporters that „the contract is worth PLN 8.25 billion” (EUR 1.75 billion) and „concerns 32 AW-149 helicopters, which means two squadrons,” with the first machines expected to be delivered next year.

Friday’s deal marks another step in efforts to modernise Poland’s armed forces as Warsaw seeks to raise defence spending to over 3 percent of GDP from next year in the face of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Reuters news agency reported.

Leonardo CEO Alessandro Profumo said: “We are proud to contribute to the constant increase of the security of the Polish nation, and to strengthen the industrial capabilities which are fundamental to the country’s resilience and sovereignty.”

Meanwhile, Polish Deputy Prime Minister and State Assets Minister Jacek Sasin said Poland was now “a safe country” thanks to being in NATO and “chiefly because we have a strong army, an army that is expanding.” 

Multi-role military helicopters

Designed to carry troops and provide air support, the AW-149 is also equipped to conduct evacuation, search and rescue missions in combat conditions, as well as transport cargo and supplies. 

Flying at a top speed of 313 kph, the helicopter has a range of 958 km and maximum endurance of 4 hours and 55 minutes.  

The AW-149 has a two-person crew and can transport up to 19 soldiers, the PAP news agency reported.

The new machines are set to replace the Polish army’s older equipment, such as the Mi family of helicopters, according to officials.

(pm/gs)

Source: IAR, PAP, Reuters, leonardo.com

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