MILMAG 01/2019 online »

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Helicopter calamity in Poland

The response of the Polish Ministry of Defence to an interpellation from MP Stanislaw Zmijan shows the real image of helicopter calamity in the Armed Forces. According to Ministry of Defence information, 95 helicopters had been retired since 2007 and only token replacements were introduced.

In March, WSK PZL-Swidnik entered negotiations with Ministry of Defence. These negotiations concern plans of a refurbishment of the 40 Mi-2 helicopters remaining in active service. These aircrafts had been in service for 52 years

On the 18th of December 2018, MP Stanislaw Zmijan who is also a certified engineer sent an interpellation to the Minister of Defence. The inquisitive, official question concerned the number of new helicopters delivered to the Armed Forces between 2015 and 2018. MP also asked for a precise number of helicopters retired during this period.

After almost 3 months, on the 1st of February 2019, Wojciech Skurkiewicz, Secretary of State in the Polish MoD provided a response. The answer wasn`t very precise and only included information about the contract from 25th of January 2019 concerning procurement of four S-70i Black Hawk helicopters for the Special Forces branch. This contract is valued at PLN 683,4 million (EUR 159,4 million) and includes delivery of helicopters together with logistical and training packages.

Mister Zmijan wasn`t satisfied with the response and repeated his question on the 12th of February 2019. It took almost a month for MoD to respond to the MP`s question. The response was again provided by Secretary of State Wojciech Skurkiewicz who stated, that between 2015 and 2018, 26 helicopters were retired due to technical issues. Four of these were removed from the official Registry of Military Airships. MoD representative broadened his answer with information regarding the years 2007 to 2015. According to the released data, in this period 69 helicopters were removed from the said Registry. So, 95 helicopters were removed from service since 2007.

There were plans for procurement of 24 Mi-24 and 3 Mi-17 helicopters in 2018. The purchase was never completed

On the 4th of March 2019, the same Secretary of State responded to another MP question, posted on the 12th of December 2019 by MP Joanna Mucha. In this response, Mr. Skurkiewicz stated that in 2018 MoD procured 4 of training helicopters for the Lotnicza Akademia Wojskowa school. The procurement process concerned 4 aircraft: 2 of Guimbal Cabri G2 and 2 Robinson R44. The R44 Robinsons were delivered to the Lotnicza Akademia Wojskowa on the 17th of December 2018. The purchase was valued at PLN 5,95 million (EUR 1,39 million). The 2 G2 helicopters purchase was completed in May 2016 and cost PLN 3,21 million (EUR 748 000).

Further procurement procedures were canceled twice, in June 2017 and May 2018.Besides 4 of S-70i Black Hawks, 4 of Leonardo AW101 helicopters were ordered in 2019. These 15,4-ton aircraft are destined for the Polish Navy and will be configured for Search and Rescue missions and Anti-Submarine Warfare. This contract is valued at PLN 1,65 billion (EUR 385 million). The helicopters will enter the service by the end of 2022 and will be used by the Brygada Lotnictwa Marynarki Wojennej. In March 2019, WSK PZL-Swidnink started negotiation with MoD regarding the refurbishment of 40 of Mi-2 helicopters. These aircraft had been in service for 52 years.AnalysisFor comparison, the 2015 Registry of aircraft used in the Polish Armed Forces states that following helicopters were in service: 26 of Mi-8, 19 of Mi-17, 60 of  Mi-2, 28of  Mi-24D/W, 10 of Mi-14PŁ/PS, 69 of W-3 Sokół, 23 of SW-4, 4 of SH-2G and 5 of Cabri G2. This sums up to 244 helicopters which were in service in the middle of 2015.

W-3 Sokol (Falcon) remains of the newest combat helicopters in the Polish Armed Forces / Photos: Michał Adamowski

Between 2006 and 2011, 12 of Mi-17 helicopters were procured (five was new, 7 was used). This equals to a single transport squadron. By the 2012 further contracts for 43 helicopters (including 24 of SW-4 and 7 of W-3) were signed.

 

 

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