Flying high as Poland and Italy sign letter of intent for new attack chopper
The new helicopter will come with a formidable 20mm gun on its chin and carry advanced missile systems, all of which should revolutionise Poland’s current fleet.
Poland’s state-owned defence company Polska Grupa Zbrojeniowa S.A. (PGZ) has signed a letter of intent with a leading Italian aerospace firm to produce a new attack helicopter that could bring significant new firepower to the Polish armed forces.
PGZ, a defence grouping comprising of over 30 companies, signed the letter with Leonardo Helicopters on the production of the AW249 attack aircraft, which, if all goes to plan, should take to skies in about 15 years.
Under the terms of the letter Leonardo and PGZ will explore collaboration in a number of areas including design, manufacturing, final assembly, marketing and after-sales support.
“Today’s agreement opens up new opportunities for PGZ companies specialising in aviation,” said Jakub Skiba, president of PGZ.
“Co-operation with Italian industry on the joint development of projects for our armed forces will allow us to broaden our capabilities and bring our companies—in close co-operation with Leonardo’s PZL-Świdnik plant – into the AW249 programme. This high-tech programme, led by Leonardo, will be also promoted in markets around the world”.
Leonardo Helicopters won the contract to develop the AW249, the successor to the AW129, the Italian armed forces’ current attack helicopter, in January 2017.
The new aircraft will come with a formidable 20mm gun on its chin and carry advanced missile systems, all of which should revolutionise Poland’s current helicopter fleet.
The country still operates ageing Soviet-era MI24 attack helicopters and is in need of a modern weapons system.
Along with possibly providing Poland with helicopters bristling with weapons, according to Wojciech Pawłuszko, an expert from Poland’s Business Centre Club on legal regulations in the defence sector, the letter of intent also makes good business sense for all involved.
He told The First News: “This future co-operation with Leonardo is a win-win situation for both parties,” he said. “Leonardo wants to find clients, and when state-owned companies, like PGZ, are involved then the Polish armed forces could well be a client.
“For PGZ it is technology,” he continued. “Leonardo is well developed and has state-of-the-art technology in the aerospace sector. And if this co-operation is fruitful, PGZ should also expect big profits because they should have high margins from their part in the production of this helicopter. The chances of the two companies signing a binding contract are high.”
Mr Pawłuszko added that the time when the helicopter comes on line in about 15 years should coincide with the time a number of European states will be in the market for a new attack helicopter.