On April 8, the Polish Ministry of National Defence signed a package of offset agreements worth 395 million zlotys ($104 million) with the Italian aerospace company Leonardo, which preceded to the signature of the to purchase four Leonardo Helicopters AW101 Merlin helicopters for the Polish Navy to use as Combat search and rescue (CSAR).
The contract for the purchase of four heavy CSAR helicopters must be signed later in April.
The Polish Navy planned to acquire eight prospective coast-based anti-submarine and search-and-rescue helicopters to replace the 10 ageing Soviet-era Mi-14 helicopters currently in operation in naval aviation (eight Mi-14PLMKs and two search and rescue Mi-14PL / R) 14PL). However, in 2018, for financial reasons, the Ministry of National Defense of Poland reduced the number of naval helicopters planned for acquisition to four, postponing the purchase of another four for an uncertain future.
The cost of the contract for the purchase of four AW101, according to Polish media reports, will be about 90 million euros.
The contract valued for the purchase of four AW101, according to Polish media reports, will be about 90 million euros.
The package of offset agreements signed on April 8 includes nine commitments, the main of which is the planned creation of a licensed AW101 helicopter maintenance and repair center jointly with Leonardo on the basis of the Polish aircraft repair plant Wojskowe Zakłady Lotnicze Nr 1 S.A. (WZL-1) in Lodz. Léonardo also pledged to provide technical support for the operation of the acquired helicopters for 10 years.
According to Leonardo, AW101 is the most advanced, versatile and capable multi-role helicopter available today. As an evolution of the highly successful EH101 the AW101 delivers new capabilities, whilst building on customer operational experience gained in the Deep Water, Littoral and Land environments.
Designed for operations in the harshest climatic conditions the helicopter has proven itself in a wide range of operational theatres around the world.
With a common platform at its heart, AW101 provides customers with the capability to configure the helicopter for a wide range of primary and secondary roles with many configurations achieved through the use of modular role equipment.