POLAND HAS decided to purchase four AW101s to replace Polish Naval Aviation’s six remaining Mi-14 Haze-A helicopters, which comprise two Mi-14PL/R search and rescue (SAR) and four Mi-14PL anti-submarine warfare (ASW) variants. As a prelude to a firm contract, which is expected to be signed with Leonardo subsidiary PZL Świdnik by the end of this month (April), Leonardo announced on April 8 that its UK subsidiary Leonardo MW Ltd has signed an Offset Agreement, valued at approximately 400 million PLN (90 million euros), with the Polish Ministry of National Defence. The agreement was signed by Polish Defence Minister Mariusz Błaszczak.
It had originally been planned to acquire eight helicopters, but the initial purchase is for just four, configured for ASW, but with a secondary combat SAR role. The Offset Agreement provides the Polish Ministry of National Defence with a commitment to establish critical maintenance capabilities for the AW101 and its dedicated mission equipment at Wojskowe Zakłady Lotnicze Nr 1 (WZL 1 – Military Aviation Works No 1) in Łódź, part of the Polish Armaments Group (PGZ). In addition, Gdańsk Technical University will be among the entities benefitting from the Offset Agreement.
The AW101 was selected following a final evaluation of the type in February, when one of the examples due for delivery to the Royal Norwegian Air Force was flown to the Polish Naval Aviation base at Gdynia from the Leonardo factory in Yeovil, Somerset.