Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation and PZL Mielec consortium has published their statement, in which it claims that the company is not capable of placing an offer in the Polish Army multi-role helicopter tender, unless the requirements of the proceedings are changed.
According to the published information, the technical, economic and legal conditions that have been created by the Ministry of Defence make it impossible for Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation and PZL Mielec to take part in the proceedings aiming at acquisition of the multi-role helicopters. It is emphasised that the decision “is not a negotiation strategy” and that it “should not be treated as means of pressure” inflicted on the Ministry of Defence. The statement also claims that “in the current conditions placing an economically justifiable offer, which would meet all the requirements in 100%, taking into account technical, legal and financial aspects, is impossible”.
Representatives of the Sikorsky and PZL Mielec companies stress the fact that the “consortium is not withdrawing from the tender” and that the companies still want to take part in the proceedings. They also stated that the Ministry of Defence received over 250 questions regarding the technical and legal details of the tender, after the consortium came to a conclusion that it will not be able to meet all the technical conditions. The companies hoped that the Polish MoD would “reformat” the conditions and requirements in a way that would make it possible for the Mielec produced S-70i Black Hawk helicopters to take part in the tender. The comments from Sikorsky and PZL have also been presented at the stage of the initial technical dialogue, however, they have not been taken into account in the final requirements of the tender.
In the information note, the representatives of the consortium indicate that procurement of a helicopter which would be able to fulfill transport, ASW and SAR missions at the same time is doubtful and “world-widely unique”.
Earlier, Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation President, Mick Maurer, has sent a letter to the representatives of the Polish authorities, in which he claimed that the Company is not going to place an offer “until the tender requirements are changed”. He also stated that the requirements are created in a way, in which they would make it possible for one bidder to meet them. The Ministry of Defence has stated that it is the “ordering Party – Ministry of Defence – is the subject which defines what is needed by the Armed Forces. Bidders are not there to show what they have for sale”. Ministry of Defence additionally stated that the “remaining bidders” stated that they will place their offers in accordance with the requirements. According to the statement by the Ministry of Defence, the ultimate requirements related to the multi-purpose choppers have been known since May 2014, while the “SAC company has such helicopters in its product range”.
The experts emphasise the fact that the situation described above is a result of requirements aiming at creating a shared platform, which is not satisfactory for any armed service and it is an illusionary hope of the Armament Inspectorate, which wants to reduce the cost of operational activity of the procured helicopters. Unifying transport helicopters and ASW helicopters is particularly controversial, since the latter ones will probably operate from the navy ships.
The contract related to the multi-role helicopters is to be signed in early 2015, and the Polish Army is to acquire in total 70 choppers in multi-role transport, CSAR and ASW variants. The tender includes the following companies: „Program EC725 Caracal Polska” consisting of Airbus Helicopters and Heli Invest Sp. z o.o., offering EC-725 Caracal helicopters, PZL Świdnik offering AW-149 choppers and finally consortium consisting of Sikorsky International Operations Inc., Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation, and Polskie Zakłady Lotnicze Sp. z o. o., with their Black Hawk helicopters. At the beginning of October the offer placing deadline has been postponed and now the final date is 28th November 2014.