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Armed Forces

Poland To Procure a Large Number of AH-64E Apache Helicopters

AH-64E Apache Guardian attack helicopter.
Photo. US Army

Deputy PM and head of the Polish MoD Mariusz Błaszczak announced that a request has been sent to the US, regarding the possible acquisition of 96 AH-64E Apache helicopters.

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The relevant statement was made via Błaszczak's Twitter account.

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The request concerns the possible acquisition of 96 AH-64E Apache Guardian helicopters for Army Aviation. Requests as such usually refer to the maximum possible number of units - this is similar to the request sent concerning 500 HIMARS systems.

Back in the times of the Polish People's Republic (pre-1989), only two 16-aircraft squadrons of Mi-24 and Mi-24W Hind helicopters were operated by Poland's military. Some of the Mi-2 helicopters were also used in combat roles. Also, a certain number of Mi-8 and Mi-17 Hips were adopted to carry unguided weapons. After 1989 the matter of potential procurement of attack helicopters, and of arming the W-3 Sokół platform was reiterated several times in the Polish defence discourse. W-3W and W-3PL Głuszec versions of the Sokół platform addressed those issues. 8 helicopters were upgraded to the latter standard, with 7 being still in service. Furthermore, Poland also took delivery of legacy Mi-24D from Germany - leftover by the Nationale Volksarmee. Today Poland has no ATGM stockpile available for the Mi-24, and the Hinds only use unguided munitions.

Currently, the armed Mi-24, Mi-2, and W-3PL helicopters are subordinated to the 1st Army Aviation Brigade, consisting of two elements: 49th Airbase in Pruszcz Gdański, and 56th Airbase in Inowrocław. These should be urgently replaced, and thus Poland is planning to acquire new aircraft. Assuming that a single helicopter squadron includes 16 aircraft, procurement of 96 helicopters would make it possible to fully equip 6 squadrons. These could be a part of the aforesaid bases of the 1st Army Aviation Brigade, but first, they would be assigned to the new 18th Mechanized Division, following an example set by the US Army divisions that also have a helicopter squadron assigned to them.

The Kruk programme initially envisaged procurement of 32 attack helicopters that would replace the two Mi-24 squadrons. The recommendations on the multiplication of the Kruk programme were mentioned in the 2017 Strategic Defence Review. At least since 2016, the said programme has been assessed for the emergence of the so-called Basic National Security Interest. Now, a decision was made to follow an FMS route, and to acquire a high number of Apache Guardians.

Transfer of Technology is also expected - according to Błaszczak. Undoubtedly, it would be desirable for so significant acquisition to establish a complete maintenance chain domestically, in Poland.

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