Poland signed a contract to buy 32 AW149 helicopters from Italy’s Leonardo, the Polish defence ministry said on July 1.
The PLN8.25bn (€1.76bn) deal is part of Poland’s push to expand and upgrade its armed forces, which have now found themselves directly on Nato’s hottest flank after Russia’s attack on Ukraine in late February.
The purchase comes amid a raft of deals with Western arms companies by countries on Nato's Eastern Flank. Last week Slovakia announced a €1.6bn infantry fighting vehicle purchase.
After lagging in defence spending since their accession to Nato almost two decades ago, Central European countries are now pushing ahead to meet the 2% of GDP target. Poland already meets it and plans to hit 3% of GDP next year.
The Leonardo helicopters will be built in Poland in the Italian company’s Polish factory PZL Swidnik. The aircraft will be delivered between 2023 and 2029.
“The new helicopters will carry out missions including troop transport and air support. The equipment of the helicopters will also allow them to be used for casualty evacuation, search and rescue in combat operations and for the transport of goods and supplies,” Leonardo said in a statement.
“The helicopters’ configuration, fully meeting the requirements of the Polish Armed Forces, will also include, among others, observation systems, small arms, guided/unguided rockets and missiles and self-defence systems,” Leonardo also said.
By increasing financing of the army, Poland wants to bulk it up to 250,000 people from the current 100,000, as well as increase the strength of territorial defence from 32,000 to 50,000.
In May, Poland said that it intended to buy six Patriot missile batteries from the US as well as mooting several other arms and equipment purchases.