Poland Procures AW149 Helicopters for Its Land Forces

Render of the AW149 in Polish colors. (Image credit: Polish MOD)

The AW149 is the selection made in the Perkoz program.

Head of the Polish MoD, Mariusz Błaszczak, signed a procurement agreement on Jul. 1, 2022, at the PZL-Świdnik facility owned by Leonardo, covering the procurement of AW149 helicopters for the land forces.

The agreement, with a value of PLN 8.25B gross (USD ~1.81B) concerns the delivery of 32 AW149 battlefield support helicopters, while the deliveries would take place between 2023 and 2029. Krzysztof Płatek, spokesman for the Armament Agency, the Polish MoD’s procurement body added, via his Twitter account, that the agreement would also entail establishing relevant industrial potential – domestically.

This procurement concludes the Polish Perkoz helicopter program, aimed initially at replacing the obsolete Mi-2 fleet. Noteworthy, this is a second acquisition that Poland is making at Leonardo’s PZL-Świdnik facility. Previously Warsaw also acquired 4 AW101 maritime helicopters for its Navy.

Let us recall that the original assumption of the Perkoz program was to procure 32 rotary-wing aircraft in three different variants: combat support/advanced airmanship training, command and control version, and reconnaissance/EW variant. The specification published in May 2020 suggested that the aircraft are to be capable of transporting either 5 troops with full kit, or up to 1,000 kilograms of payload. The training requirement means that the helicopters shall have a dual set of controls, while the close support requirement suggests that the helicopter shall be armed.

The MoD claims that the helicopters would receive sensors, guns, and guided and unguided missiles/rockets, as well as a self-protection suite. The guided effectors would also include ATGMs – but it is unclear which missile would be selected for that role. Krzysztof Płatek, spokesman for the Armament Agency suggested that the missile is going to be a Hellfire-class ATGM, without naming a specific effector. Poland could then procure either Hellfires, Spike ATGMs (manufactured locally), or the MBDA UK Brimstone, already selected in the Army’s Ottokar-Brzoza tank destroyer program.

In further tweets, Płatek explains that even though the type of the missile has not been disclosed (as it is confidential), the missile belonging to the same class as the US-made Hellfire shall have a range of at least 8 kilometers. Nonetheless, using the argument that the information on the specific type is confidential, Płatek did not reveal that type.

The Polish helicopter procurement saga continues, following the 2016 cancelation of the Caracal deal. So far the Polish MoD procured minor quantities of S-70i Black Hawk helicopters for the SOF component and AW101s for the Navy. The AW149 would become the third type in service – which departs from the Caracal tender assumptions, where 50 helicopters were to be gathered in a common fleet, across all branches of the military.

About Jacek Siminski
Standing contributor for TheAviationist. Aviation photojournalist. Co-Founder of DefensePhoto.com. Expert in linguistics, Cold War discourse, Cold War history and policy and media communications.