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Armed Forces

Poland Procures the AW149 in Its Perkoz Programme

Photo. Juliusz Sabak

An agreement is going to be signed soon, covering the delivery of multi-role AW149 support helicopters, as announced by the head of the Polish Ministry of Defence, Mariusz Błaszczak, during an Armed Forces and MoD leadership briefing, also involving President Andrzej Duda. The Leonardo Helicopters AW149s would be manufactured at the PZL Świdnik facility.

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According to the information obtained by us, the AW149 helicopters would be procured as a part of the Perkoz multi-role support helicopters procurement programme that, according to the technical dialogue, assumes that 32 helicopters in 3 different variants would be acquired:

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  • Combat support/advanced training;
  • Command;
  • Reconnaissance and EW.
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The data unveiled in May 2020, on some of the technical requirements, the procurement process was related to helicopters capable of transporting 5 fully-equipped troops, or 1,000 kilograms of cargo. The airmanship training requirements mean that dual controls would be needed for the helicopters. The ability to carry out close support and recce missions would mean that the new helicopters should also be able to carry armament and optoelectronic sensor/targeting suite.

Interestingly, the technical dialogue in this programme was suspended in March 2021. 12 potential bidders expressed their interest in participating in this procedure back then. The group also included the PZL Świdnik company, representing Leonardo Helicopters. As suggested by the information released by Mariusz Błaszczak, it is planned that AW149 helicopters would be procured in that programme. The AW149 is one of the latest designs by Leonardo Helicopters - it is modular, and utilizes composites in its structure.

The helicopter is also a combat-capable one. It features large sliding doors on both sides of the cabin. It can also accommodate gun mounts. It is also possible to install external hardpoints for special purpose equipment and armament, including unguided rocket pods, and guided missiles. The helicopter has been fitted with open-architecture avionics, a HUMS (Health and Usage Monitoring System) suite, and the main gearbox which may be operated without any oil supply for up to 50 minutes.

The AW149 has been procured by Italy, Thailand, and, in 2020, Egypt. The helicopter is also being offered to the UK Armed Forces, in the current tender aimed at selecting a replacement for the Puma multi-role helicopters. If the AW149 is commissioned in the Polish Armed Forces, most of the manufacturing, assembly included, shall take place at the PZL-Świdnik facility, owned by Leonardo Helicopters. Interestingly, in the Perkoz programme, the aforesaid company was offering the AW139W. Speaking to Defence24.pl the President at PZL-Świdnik, Jacek Libucha, was stressing the fact that the offer concerns the AW149 and is fully dependent on the requirements defined by the Polish Ministry of Defence, and the Armament Agency.

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