Offers for eight combat choppers for search-and-rescue missions and eight anti-submarine warfare helicopters with sea rescue capabilities have already been made by three bidders, who the ministry invited to the negotiating table.
According to the PAP news agency, the bidders are Airbus Helicopters, based in France, and two manufacturers with plants in Poland, PZL Mielec and PZL-Świdnik, however the ministry said details of the negotiations are classified.
The defence ministry also announced that American plane manufacturer Boeing, the German-based Lufthansa, and Czech firm Glomex were asked to take part in a tender for medium-sized planes for Polish VIPs.
Choppers needed urgently
The military helicopters are required more urgently, the ministry said, as rescue choppers currently being used on the Baltic Sea will be retired in 2019.
Because the machines are of key importance to national security, “negotiations will be conducted in total confidentiality”, the ministry said, adding: “This means that until they are complete, no specific details will be revealed to the public”.
The defence ministry also pointed out that Poland's offset requirements in the new tender had been “carefully prepared” after the previous government's “neglect” resulted in earlier negotiations being cut off last year.
The former Civic Platform-led government chose to purchase 50 ‘Eurocopter’ EC725 helicopters for a price of PLN 13.5 billion (EUR 3.2 billion) in April 2015, rejecting rival offers from the Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation's PZL Mielec and AgustaWestland PZL Świdnik.
The decision to purchase from a French firm rather than a Polish one was met with domestic criticism at the time. The current Law and Justice government gave indications that it might cancel the deal after winning elections in October 2015. The negotiations were called off a year later.
According to government representatives, negotiations failed as an agreement could not be reached on offset requirements. The Polish side wanted offset deals to be worth around PLN 13.5 billion, the same as the helicopter purchase itself, and that without the offset, the deal would not go ahead.
In 2016, the ministry of defence announced it would purchase two new and one used medium-sized plane for Poland's VIPs, an investment worth PLN one billion (EUR 231 million).
At the time, it said an agreement would by signed in the first quarter of 2017 with the used craft being delivered in November, while the new planes would be delivered in 2020-2021. (vb/pk)
Source: mon.gov.pl. PAP