Eurocopter Eyes Polish Helo Transport Competition
Eurocopter hopes to crack the Polish defense market as Warsaw authorities are expected to launch an open tender for military transport helicopters by the end of the year, a company executive said.
“We are on standby mode,” Olivier Michalon, vice president of sales & customer relations for Europe and central Asia, said July 10 at the Farnborough International Airshow.
Polish authorities are expected to issue a request for information or proposal for 27 tactical transport helicopters in a competition that local press has reported could be worth about 700 million euros ($859 million), Michalon said.
“It’s going to be a tough competition,” he said. Eurocopter could field the EC725 or NH90 aircraft, while Sikorsky is expected to offer the Blackhawk, and AgustaWestland the AW149, he said.
The new helicopters would replace an aging fleet of Mi-17 “Hip” helicopters.
Eurocopter is due to make presentations to the Polish authorities at the MSPO defense trade show in Poland, which opens Sept. 3, Michalon said.
The Polish competition is seen as important as there are few European countries looking to buy new military helicopters, he said.
Eurocopter hopes to benefit from the industrial presence of parent company EADS, which has had a final assembly line for the Casa 295 military transport aircraft in Poland since around 2000. An industrial offset is increasingly the trend in foreign deals.
Eurocopter has delivered five civilian helicopters for testing in Russia, Michalon said.
Russian news agency Interfax-AVN reported July 4 that two two-engined AS355NP helicopters and three one-engine AS350B3 helicopters from Eurocopter had been delivered to the State Flight Test center for trials for the Russian Defense Ministry .
The MoD is looking to buy 47 for flying senior ministry officials and military district commanders, the agency report said.
The Russian military market is “very protectionist” and difficult to penetrate, but Eurocopter was ready to respond to any request from the Moscow authorities, Michalon said.
In crisis-stricken Greece, the authorities have taken delivery of four out of a total order of 20 NH90 helicopters, and deliveries of the rest of the order are on track, he said.
A new delivery schedule was negotiated after the 2008 financial crisis, with one or two units due to be shipped by the end of this year, Michalon said.
Russia has bought the French Mistral-class amphibious assault ship and shown interest in acquiring the Felin infantry kit.