The currently ongoing Polish Armed Forces helicopter purchase program has two main goals: first is to upgrade the fleet of helicopters conducting CSAR operations with Special Forces and second, to enhance ASW and SAR capabilities of Naval Aviation Brigade over the Baltic Sea. In both cases, Leonardo Helicopters AW101 Merlin helicopter seems to be the right choice.
First, quick reminder. For the first task, the contract will be to the company which will deliver eight helicopters for the 7.EDS (7th Special Operations Squadron, a specialized unit of the Polish Air Force formed to work with SOF units). In this particular case, the purchase procedure has moved on to the stage of negotiations with tenderers. In the second, task, ASW SAR operations over the Baltic Sea, the Armaments Inspectorate (Polish MOD body responsible for military equipment purchases) is looking for a provider of four (with an option of additional four) helicopters for the Polish Navy, which will replace Mi-14PL and Mi-14PL/R (NATO Code: Haze) and will support the smaller W-3WARM Anakonda (please see this article for more details). Leonardo Helicopters has submitted their offer for both tender requirements, but since the procedure is confidential, the information which helicopter is going to be offered for Poland has not been made public. But it’s more than certain that the Leonardo Helicopters AW101 Merlin is the perfect candidate for both “jobs”.