At the Defence24 Day conference, held on 24 and 25 May 2023 in Warsaw (Poland), the inspector of the Siły Powietrzne RP (Polish Air Force) Brigade General Ireneusz Nowak announced that a purchase of 22 Leonardo AW101 Merlin medium-lift helicopters is planned.
The new Merlins will work together with the newly acquired Lotnictwo Wojsk Ladowych (LWL, Polish Army Aviation) Leonardo AW149 medium multi-role battlefield support helicopters and will replace the ageing Mi-8 and Mi-17 helicopters.
At the same conference, the Polish Armed Forces showed several slides, including a timeline outlining their plans for the coming years. The total wish list for the Polish armed forces is huge and one might wonder how Poland is going to obtain the necessary budget for all these wishes. The stationing of American troops and the use of Polish airbases will certainly help to find space for the requested defense budget.
Concentrating on the aviation related part of the lengthy list, the following was seen on the various slides:
32x Leonardo AW149, delivery 2023-2029 (already ordered in July 2022)
22x Leonardo AW101 Merlin, delivery 2025-2031
96x Boeing AH-64E Apache Guardian, delivery 2025-2035 *)
8x Kondor helicopter, type unknown, delivery 2027-2034
2x Saab 340 AEW&C, delivery 2023-2024 **)
*) it was reported that Poland has reached an agreement with the USA to receive eight interim AH-64D Apache Longbow attack helicopters from the US Army this year in order to more rapidly field the capability. Training of pilots and technicians will already start in the coming weeks.
**) Poland is in talks with Sweden to acquire Saab Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEW&C) aircraft. According to Mariusz Błaszczak, minister of defence, the acquisition of early warning aircraft signifies a strong commitment to bolster Poland's air defence. Specific aircraft details were not disclosed, but most obviously will be the GlobalEye. However, these aircraft will not be available on short notice, therefore Sweden has offered two Saab 340AEW&C aircraft. These two aircraft were returned to Sweden in December 2020 from the United Arab Emirates after delivery of the first GlobalEyes to the United Arab Emirates Air Force (UAE AF).
Another set of slides showed the upgrade and modernisation plans, including timelines, for the following aircraft:
16x Airbus Military C295M, 2024-2028
7x M-28B/PT, 2026-2027
11x M-28B1R, 2027-2031
40x Sokol W-3, 2024-2030
When looking back in time, the Polish Armed Forces have their order book already filled with almost 90 aircraft. These are:
Siły Powietrzne RP (Polish Air Force)
5x Lockheed C-130H Hercules, delivery 2023-2024 (two have already been delivered)
32x Lockheed F-35A Lightning II, delivery from 2024 onwards
12x KAI FA-50GF Block 10, delivery in 2023
36x KAI FA-50PL Block 20, delivery 2025-2028
4x Sikorsky S-70i Black Hawk, delivery 2023-2024
Lotnictwo Marynarki Wojennej (LMW, Polish Navy)
4x Leonardo AW101 Merlin ASW, delivery 2023
Photo by Polish Ministry of Defence