Polish Defence Minister Mariusz Błaszczak has confirmed an order for four Polish-built Sikorsky S-70i Black Hawk helicopters to provide an enhanced capability to Poland’s military branch Special Operations Forces. Production of the aircraft will begin immediately with delivery of all four aircraft expected by the end of this year.
Speaking at a contract signing event at aerospace and defence company Lockheed Martin’s aircraft manufacturing facility PZL Mielec – where the S-70i is built –Błaszczak said that it was an important day for Poland and employees at PZL Mielec. “The Polish Army has bought proven Black Hawk helicopters. Helicopters that have been tested in war conditions in Iraq and in Afghanistan and are among the most modern in the world.”
Błaszczak also said that “it is the first stage of cooperation between the Polish Army and aircraft manufacturer PZL Mielec”.
The contract was signed in the presence of Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki.
Production of the special operations Black Hawks will directly sustain around 1 700 jobs at PZL Mielec and support employment for about 5 000 more within the company’s Polish supply chain. Many of these companies are small- to medium-sized businesses based in aviation cluster Aviation Valley in south-east Poland.
The exact specification of each aircraft and details of the specialist equipment fitted are covered by Poland’s Zastrzezone security level and cannot be disclosed.
“With both the national police and special operations forces selecting the S-70i Black Hawk, our Polish-built helicopters now have government endorsement and this sends an important signal of trust to potential export customers,” said PZL Mielec president and general director Janusz Zakrecki.
“The S-70i is identical in terms of capability and performance to other Black Hawk helicopters in service with a number of Poland’s North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (Nato) allies. It will allow Polish troops to integrate quickly and operate seamlessly with their allies.”
Designed and manufactured to US Army requirements, the multi-role Black Hawk helicopter is the preferred combat assault and utility helicopter for the US military and 31 international customers.
Designed for deployed operations and field maintenance in mind, it can be quickly reconfigured for a variety of missions, such as troop transport and combat assault, medical evacuations, humanitarian relief, search and rescue, cargo lift and as an armed helicopter for an attack mission.
With more than 50 years of collaboration with Nato, Lockheed Martin is a trusted strategic partner for Europe.
The company opened its office in central Warsaw in 1997 and partners with the Polish Ministry of Defence on a variety of defence and security programmes.
Headquartered in Bethesda, Maryland, in the US, Lockheed Martin is a global security and aerospace company that employs approximately 100 000 people worldwide and is principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture, integration and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products and services.