WARSAW – Two American manufacturers – Boeing and Bell – will compete in a tender for orders worth over 10 billion Polish Zloty (2,3 billion $) for attack helicopters for the Polish Army, Mariusz Blaszczak, the head of the Ministry of Defense, revealed after his visit to the US – reports the Rzeczpospolita newspaper.
“We will soon proceed to make inquiries related to the purchase of modern weapons to equip the Polish Army. These are new orders, but I will not talk about their scale at the moment. It will be significantly larger than the orders placed previously”, said Mariusz Blaszczak, the Minister of National Defence after talks with the management of American defense companies.
Asked about helicopters for the Polish Army, the minister noted that at the moment there are two offers – from Boeing and Bell.
“We will choose the most advantageous offer. It is important to us that such weapons are equipped for the Polish Army as soon as possible”, Błaszczak added.
The modernization program “Kruk” (Raven), considered urgent back in 2014 right after the Russian invasion of Crimea and clashes over the Donbas in eastern Ukraine, returns to the list of priority investments of the Polish Armed Forces.
It was then, still under the previous ruling coalition (PO-PSL), that the express acquisition of 32 attack helicopters was announced.
Then, when the current party took power and the situation in the East stabilized, the Ministry of Defence suspended the implementation of the costly program.
Today, the Kruk program is back in favor as a result of the experiences of the war in Ukraine. Experts agree: that equipping the national arsenal with modern attack helicopters is an extremely urgent task today.
Poland must replace the worn-out Mi-24s of Russian production that only less than 30 of these are left in our land forces.
It looks like a fratricidal clash. The smaller, but no less famous Bell is challenging the mighty Boeing. For years, however, it has been the Apache attack helicopter that has been regarded as the world’s benchmark for attack helicopters.
Boeing is the favorite
After the recent talks at the Pentagon, the Minister of National Defence, Mariusz Blaszczak, announced that the army would order the American helicopters proposed by the US manufacturers for a long time.
In a short post on social media, the head of the Ministry of Defence puts the matter bluntly – we will buy assault rotorcraft from a manufacturer who will offer better conditions.
Let us remind you – that the aviation giant Boeing has long offered in Warsaw its AH-64 Apache family helicopter equipped with battlefield radars, which are recognized worldwide and present in several NATO countries (including the USA, Greece, the Netherlands, and the UK).
Bell Helicopter, which is part of the Texan Textron group, is tempting Poland with the AH 1Z Viper attack helicopter.
It is one of the newest attack helicopters on the market, built for the US Marine Corps, and experts expect it to have an export career (so far, in addition to the US, it has “landed” in the Czech Army, Bahrain, Nigeria, and Pakistan).
Bell praises “Viper”…
Aerospace giant Boeing and its legendary Apaches have long been seen as favorites in Poland.
Bell has therefore reached for additional arguments: the new, armed to the teeth marines’ rotorcraft – AH 1Z Viper, carrying Hellfire guided anti-tank missiles and AIM-9 Sidewinder anti-aircraft missiles, and additionally equipped with a rapid-firing three-barrel 22 mm caliber gun, is a cheaper machine than the Apache laden with electronics and more economical in operation.
The helicopter tycoon from Fort Worth, Texas, claims that Vipers are adapted to the most difficult conditions and conducting autonomous operations, e.g. with limited access to service bases.