WARSAW (AFP): Poland, a NATO member bordering Ukraine, will buy 32 AW149 multi-role military helicopters worth 1.75 billion euros ($1.83 billion) from Italian arms company Leonardo, its defence minister said Friday.
The Polish military will take delivery of a first batch of helicopters next year, “which matters in the context of the international situation of the Russian aggression in Ukraine,” said Mariusz Blaszczak when signing the contract at Leonardo’s production site in southeast Poland.
The minister said Poland had ordered a “heavily armed” version of the AW149 equipped with anti-tank missiles.
The contract also provides for training and a set of spare parts and equipment for helicopter maintenance.
In October 2016, Poland’s government broke off negotiations with the Airbus group for the purchase of 50 Caracal transport helicopters at the time valued at 3.14 billion euros.
Since then, Warsaw has ordered four S-70i “Black Hawk” transport helicopters from the American Sikorsky corporation and four Leonardo AW101 multi-role helicopters.
Poland, as well as its NATO allies, has been boosting its military forces as it strengthens its defences in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.