Poland's new government to tear up huge defence tenders

By bne IntelliNews November 25, 2015

Poland's new government is working to scrap the results of two huge defence tenders agreed by its predecessor earlier this year, officials confirmed on November 25.

The Law and Justice (PiS) administration is working to anull the tender, announced in April, that saw Airbus awarded a contract to supply dozens of combat helicopters to the army, Michal Jach, the newly appointed head of the parliamentary defence committee, told Polish Radio. The defence ministry hopes to set up a new competition.

Reflecting complaints from trade unions, new ruling party Law and Justice (PiS) has long insisted the French company's offer ran counter to the interests of the Polish defence industry. Airbus has hardly any production facilities in the country, unlike losing bidders Sikorsky and Agusta-Westland.

“[It is very likely] the tender will be annulled and organised again," Jach said. "A group is working in the ministry [of defence], analysing documents."

The official says Airbus’ US and UK/Italian rivals lost the tender on purely formal grounds and not because their offers did not meet technical conditions. That, however, was firmly denied by the previous minister of defence as soon as PiS’ started raising doubt about the tender a few months ago.

The previous Civic Platform (PO) administration, which was ousted at elections on October 25, selected Airbus to supply the helicopters in a PLN8bn-12bn (€1.9bn-2.8bn) deal. The contract is part of a larger plan to plough PLN130bn into upgrading defence by 2022.

Before the election, PiS was quite clear the Polish armed forces should be equipped with helicopters made by companies that already run production facilities in Poland. Antoni Macierewicz - since appointed defence minister in the PiS cabinet - said in September the fact “that the helicopters will be produced in France, and not in Poland, is a scandal”. 

The defence minister also told the parliamentary defence committee that the deal with US company Raytheon to equip the Polish army with Patriot missiles, also agreed in April, will be impossible to implement. Referring to a document he claimed was uncovered in the ministry, Macierewicz said the deal was too expensive and delivery times too long.

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