On Monday, 14 January, The Armament Agency announced the intention to conduct preliminary market consultations in preparation for acquisition of an integrated training system for combat helicopter pilots.
As stated in the published document, the subject of the preliminary market consultations will be to determine the possibilities of acquiring a comprehensive solution consisting of:
- 24 helicopters configured for training with the use of aerial combat assets.
- Training system (simulators, trainers).
- Logistic package.
- Material support services (e.g. Performance Based Logistics – PBL).
- Training package (training and courses).
- Adaptation or construction of infrastructure closely related to the training system.
The preliminary market consultations will take place between February 14th and March 15th, 2024. The deadline for submitting applications to participate in them is January 29th, 2024.
The consultations will include an assessment of the feasibility of meeting the initially defined requirements, defining the capabilities of the domestic industry in this regard, specifying the conditions related to the acquisition of the logistic security system, supply security, training, and the implementation of related infrastructure. It will also involve estimating the costs of acquisition, operation, and retirement of military equipment, including the related infrastructure for assembly and operation, preliminary determination of acquisition timelines, and other factors as needed.
The above procedure, which lays the foundation for the purchase of new training helicopters (successors to the SW-4 Puszczyk and Mi-2), stems from the extensive helicopter fleet modernization programs in the Polish Armed Forces carried out in recent years.
It should be noted here that Lockheed Martin/Sikorsky S-70i Black Hawk International multi-role helicopters for Special Forces (6 out of 8 ordered have been received), Leonardo/AgustaWestland AW149 multi-role support helicopters for the Land Forces (3 out of 32 ordered have been received), and Leonardo/AgustaWestland AW101 multi-role maritime helicopters for the Navy (4 ordered have been received) are part of those modernization programs.
Furthermore, the Armament Agency is in negotiations for the purchase of more helicopters for the Land Forces: additional 22 AW101 in transport version, 32 S-70i, and 96 Boeing AH-64E Apache Guardian attack helicopters (along with the 8 AH-64 acquired from the US Army as a temporary solution). It is also possible that the Navy will receive additional 6 to 8 AW101 and 4 to 8 multi-role maritime helicopters as part of the Kondor program, which will replace the SH-2G Super Seasprite.
The expansion of the helicopter fleet with modern designs requires the establishment of appropriate training infrastructure for military personnel. Considering the requirement for the new training helicopters to use aerial combat assets, potential candidates available in the market include the H145M from the European company Airbus Helicopters, AH-6i from the American Boeing, or AW109M Trekker from the Italian Leonardo. The latter is of particular interest due to another condition: the capabilities of the domestic industry, as the Italian manufacturer is represented in Poland by WSK PZL-Świdnik, which is involved in production of their elements. Competitive PZL Mielec (owned by Lockheed Martin) can currently offer only designs from the S-70/H-60 Black Hawk family.