The helicopter is the first of four AW101s Poland has ordered for its Navy.
The first of AW101 in Polish Navy color scheme landed in Poland. The aircraft is the first of four AW101 anti-submarine and rescue helicopters ordered to enhance the Polish Navy’s helicopter fleet operating the W-3 WARM Anakonda helicopters for SAR purposes along with two variants of the obsolete Mi-14 Haze used for ASW (Anti-Submarine Warfare) and SAR missions.
On Aug. 7, 2023, the Polish Ministry of Defense Mariusz Blaszczak announced that the delivery flight was underway.
— Mariusz Błaszczak (@mblaszczak) August 7, 2023
Few hours later, the official account of the contry’s Armament Agency released the first images of the AW101 landing in Poland.
— Agencja Uzbrojenia (@AgencjaUzbr) August 7, 2023
According to the current schedule, the new AW101 will undergo a series of tests at the PZL Świdnik aviation plant, before it will be handed off to the 44th Naval Aviation Base in Darłowo. It will be used to carry out anti-submarine warfare and CSAR tasks, replacing the remaining Mi-14s, that will be retired.
The AW101 is a medium-lift multirole helicopter in service with several military and civilian operators. With a MTOW (Maximum Take Off Weight) of 15.6 tonnes and a large cabin able to accommodate mission equipment and personnel it can carry a 4-6 crew and rescue more than 20 survivors in a single sortie whilst simultaneously delivering specialised trauma treatment with a dedicated medical team.
Noteworthy, the AW101, with its three engines, is a perfect maritime/oceanic helicopter: there is probably no other platform offering comparable levels of reliability in some scenarios, where long mission endurance and safety are a primary factor, i.e. over the Arctic waters. That’s why, for instance, it was chosen for SAR purposes by Norway and Canada (the latter in the CH-149 Cormorant variant).
The contract, worth 1.65B PLN (373M Euro), was signed at Świdnik, in southeastern Poland, in April 2019. An offset contract was also signed, the beneficiary of which is the WZL-1 plant, which will form a helicopter exploitation support center. The other beneficiary of the offset contract is the Centre for Maritime Military Technologies at the Gdańsk University of Technology.
Leonardo is to provide technical support for 10 years and PZL-Świdnik is the prime contractor for the Navy programme. Deliveries were initially scheduled for 2022 but they were delayed by the Covid-19 pandemic.