Magazine article National Defense

Leonardo Teams Up to Pitch Helicopter to Polish Army

Magazine article National Defense

Leonardo Teams Up to Pitch Helicopter to Polish Army

Article excerpt

Two international companies have partnered to offer a new combat helicopter to the Polish army.

Italy-based Leonardo and Polska Grupa Zbrojeniowa, or PGZ, recently signed a letter of intent to collaborate on Leonardo's AW249 rotorcraft, the companies announced in a press release. The partnership will extend to a number of areas including design, manufacturing, final assembly, marketing and aftersales support for the helicopter.

The AW249 was originally planned for the Italian military, according to a Leonardo spokesperson. The company signed a multiyear contract with the Italian Ministry of Defence in January 2017 to replace the army's aging fleet of AW129s, which are expected to be retired from service by 2026. The Polish variant will be considered under Poland's "Kruk" procurement program to buy 16 new attack helicopters by 2022 to replace its Soviet-era Mi-24 aircraft. Another 16 helicopters could be procured after 2022, the Polish government said in a 2016 news release.

The Kruk program is part of Poland's efforts to replace many legacy platforms procured during the Warsaw Pact era with NATO-standard hardware, and to promote the local industrial base, said Dan Darling, a defense market analyst covering Europe at Forecast International, a Newtown, Connecticut-based marketing and analysis firm.

The country first announced its plan to buy new attack helicopters in 2012, he said. Three teams have announced their intent to compete: Leonardo/PGZ with the AW249, Boeing with its AH-64E Apache Guardian platform, and Bell with the AH-1Z Viper rotorcraft. …

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