POLAND IS planning to purchase 50 Airbus Helicopters H225M Caracals to meet its armed forces’ requirements for new medium multi-purpose helicopters. The Polish Ministry of Defence announced that the type (formerly known as the EC725 until the manufacturer’s recent designation changes for its helicopter range) had been selected as the preferred option on April 21.
The original plans had been to purchase 70 helicopters, but after a review of requirements, it has been determined that Poland will retain its Mi-17 fleet for a further decade, enabling a reduction in new acquisitions.
The Polish MOD had announced on December 30 that three bidders had submitted proposals for the requirement. Airbus Helicopters and Heli Invest Sp were the winning bidders, while the other offers came from AgustaWestland’s Polish subsidiary WSK PZL Swidnik SA with the AW149 and Sikorsky’s Polish subsidiary PZL Mielec, partnered with Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation and Sikorsky International Operations, proposing the S-70i Black Hawk.
The Polish MOD said that, following analysis of the tenders and offset proposals submitted, it determined that the two losing bids did not meet all of the formal and technical requirements. Further in-country testing of the H225M will now be carried out during May and June to verify the type’s technical parameters, prior to concluding a firm contract. It is hoped to begin deliveries in 2017.
Originally, the 70 helicopters, all based on a common platform, were to be split between 48 tactical transports for the Army; ten SAR helicopters for the Air Force; six ASW versions for the Navy and six maritime SAR examples, also for the Navy. Although unconfirmed, it is believed the reduced requirement will see the 48 Army transport versions cut from 48 to 28. Alan Warnes