Poland Scraps $3 Billion 50 Airbus Helicopter Deal, Holds Talks With Lockheed

  • Our Bureau
  • 02:55 PM, February 4, 2016
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Poland is likely to scrap $3 billion deal for 50 utility helicopters from Airbus and might buy only a few aircraft.

Poland’s previous government had agreed on a provisional deal with Airbus for 50 EC-725 caracal multirole helicopters.

Poland has begun negotiations with Lockheed Martin's Sikorsky, manufacturer of the locally-produced Black Hawk helicopters that could be purchased by the Polish army as soon as this year; Reuters quoted Polish news daily Rzeczpospolita as reporting on Thursday citing defense sources.

The contract, negotiated by the economy ministry, has yet to be signed and PiS has repeatedly said it would rather see the deal awarded to a producer manufacturing locally. Both Sikorsky and AgustaWestland have facilities in Poland, the daily said.

Buying Sikorsky helicopters could further strengthen Warsaw's ties with Washington, already its closest ally, and could help secure US backing for Poland's demands of more NATO presence on the alliance's eastern flank.

Airbus has proposed a so-called "offset program" that would source work on its helicopters in Poland, but Foreign Minister Witold Waszczykowski has described that as "leftovers" and said those aircraft would mostly be built in France.

The French defense ministry has now agreed Poland will only buy "several" helicopters from Airbus, Rzeczpospolita reported, citing an unnamed source in the Polish defense ministry.

Earlier this year, a Polish deputy defense minister said that the deal with Airbus was "very likely" to be scrapped.

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