News from Eastern Europe: Poland initiates new talks on supplying helicopters to army

11:50 Oct. 19, 2016

Poland initiates new talks on supplying helicopters to army

A group of helicopters flies over during a military parade marking the Polish Army Day in Warsaw, Poland, Aug. 15, 2006 ( AP Photo)

Three defense firms that took part in previous tender are invited

Poland has invited three defense firms - Airbus, Lockheed Martin's Sikorsky unit and Leonardo-Finmeccanica – to take part in the preliminary talks on supplying new helicopters to the country's armed forces.

These companies had participated in the previous tender which ended in a preliminary agreement with Airbus to buy 50 Caracal multi-role helicopters.

The deal was scrapped earlier this month after four-year long negotiations started under the previous Civic Platform-led government.

Both Sikorsky and Leonardo's AugustaWestland produce helicopters at Polish plants in the cities of Mielec and Swidnik respectively.

Beata Perkowska, a Polish defence ministry's spokesperson, said the new talks concern the purchase of helicopters as part of an "urgent operational need" reported by the Polish armed forces.

Defence Minister Antoni Macierewicz explained earlier this week that the framework of the urgent operational need allowed the ministry to hold talks with a chosen contractor without the need to announce a new tender.

The decision to scrap the earlier preliminary deal with Airbus angered France and led to a cancellation of the French president's visit to Poland earlier in October.

Polish officials said they did not receive acceptable proposals from Airbus over local investments, the deal was criticized by trade unions in two Polish aviation plants, and there had been efforts "to sell Poland the Caracal at a higher price than to Brazil and Kuwait."

Airbus's CEO accused Poland of misleading the company during negotiations and said his company would demand compensation.

Based on reporting by Reuters, Radio Poland 

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