This is a major victory for the European manufacturers, Airbus Helicopters and their Caracal now called the H225M. The Polish army preferred it to the two other heavyweight competitors: the American Sikorsky’s Black Hawk, and the Italian AgustaWestland AW149.
Warsaw intends to acquire 50 multi-role helicopters. The H225M will be tested this summer before a firm and definitive signature in September, for an estimated contract value of between two and three billion euros.
Neither the presence on Polish soil of UTC, the parent company of Sikorsky, with their 10,000 employees and a Black Hawk assembly line, nor the acquisition by AgustaWestland in 2010, of the Polish helicopter manufacturer PZL-Swidnik, played in their favour.
So what did come into play ? Firstly, the promise to invest locally, with Airbus Helicopters having committed themselves to building the H225M with a Polish partner (Heli Invest Services) on an assembly line, located in Lodz. Secondly, there is the aircraft itself ; its reliability and durability have been demonstrated, not only in combat conditions and crisis areas since 2005 (Afghanistan, Libya, Mali, Lebanon), but also with the armed forces of a dozen or so other countries (France, Brazil, Mexico, Indonesia, Thailand).
With an operating range of 900 km. (560 miles), a cruising speed of 260 km/h (160 mph), equipped with rocket launchers, and capable of carrying 28 troops, the H225M meets the needs of the Polish Army who wanted a multi-role terrestrial and naval transport, and rescue rotor-craft.