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Polish Navy seeks Multi-Role Helicopters

Kaman SH-2G Super Seasprite landing onboard ORP Ślązak. Image: PGZ SW
Kaman SH-2G Super Seasprite landing onboard ORP Ślązak. Image: PGZ SW

The Armament Inspectorate announced that a technical dialogue has been launched with regards to a “Multi-role [Naval] Embarked Helicopter for the Polish Navy”. Most probably the aircraft would operate from the OHP frigates and ORP Ślązak patrol vessel. Potentially they could also get embarked on the new Miecznik and Czapla vessels that are expected to be acquired in the future. The matter may be urgent as the SH-2G Super Seasprite platform operated by the Polish Navy now are to be withdrawn due to the lack of manufacturer’s support within the scope of maintenance.

The Kondor embarked helicopter programme pertains to ASW helicopters that would also offer a capability of locating targets for maritime systems with the use of their radars. The above means that the rotary-winged aircraft in question would detect and designate targets for the Kongsberg NSM anti-ship missiles operated by the Naval Missile Unit and Saab RBS-15 missiles used by the Orkan-class vessels.

As the announcement released by the Armament Inspectorate of the MoD suggests, it is planned that 4 to 8 helicopters weighing up to 6.5 tonnes would be acquired, along with a logistics support package and training package for the aircrew and ground crew. The aircraft offered are to be assessed within the framework of initially defined requirements pertaining to the following matters:

  • armament systems,
  • communication systems,
  • self-defence systems, 
  • identification [IFF] systems, 
  • navigation suite, 
  • EW suite

Estimated procurement and operational cost would also be taken into consideration, along with the possible delivery date, logistics support, training support, and so on. Requests to participate in the procedure expires on 20th January 2020. The planned period during which the technical dialogue is to take place has been defined as the term between May and July 2020. The term is related to urgent requirement to resolve a problem pertaining to 4 Kaman SH-2G Super Seasprite helicopters that need to be replaced. They had to be withdrawn because of the fact that the manufacturer's support within Foreign Military Sales (FMS) is being finished. The aircraft in question date back to the early 1990s. They are currently operated solely by Poland, Egypt, Peru and New Zealand. Another matter that remains important here is the need to equip the ORP Ślązak OPV with an embarked helicopter - the vessel features a helipad for aircraft like that.

Due to the low MTOW requirement, two European manufacturers may potentially offer their products (up to 6.5 tonnes). One of the platforms is the Airbus Helicopters AS565 Panther ASuW platform derived from AS365/H155 Dauphin, weighing around 4.5 tonnes. It is capable of flying at speeds of up to 306 kilometers per hour and it can also carry MU90 torpedoes or A244-S torpedoes and AS-15 anti-ship missiles.

Leonardo Helicopters AW159 is another helicopter considered here. It is a replacement of Westland Lynx. Its naval variant is operated by the Royal Navy or by the South Korean Navy. The helicopter weighing 6 tonnes can attain speeds of up to 311 kilometers per hour and has a maximum range of almost 800 kilometers. Wildcat has been equipped with Compact Flash Sonic sonar and Selex Galileo Seaspray 7000E AESA radar as well as L-3 Wescam MX-15Di optronic sensor. The armament used by the Royal Navy included Sea Venom and Sting Ray torpedoes or depth charges. The offer may also be attractive as the Navy decided last year to procure 4 heavy ASW/SAR AW101 platforms by the very same supplier.