WARSAW, Jan 26 (Reuters) - Poland’s $3 billion army helicopter deal with Airbus is “very likely” to be cancelled, the deputy defence minister said, signalling one of Warsaw’s key military programmes, speeded up in response to the Ukraine crisis, may face delays.
Poland’s previous centrist government, beaten by the Eurosceptic Law and Justice (PiS) party in a parliamentary election in October, agreed a provisional deal with Airbus for 50 EC-725 Caracal multi-purpose helicopters, turning down offers from Sikorsky and AgustaWestland.
The contract, negotiated by the economy ministry, has yet to be signed and PiS has repeatedly said it would rather see the deal awarded to a producer manufacturing locally. Both Sikorsky and AgustaWestland have facilities in Poland.
“I can’t say that the final assessment of the ... negotiations will be negative, but considering how big the differences are, it is very likely that an agreement will not be reached,” Bartosz Kownacki told the Rzeczpospolita daily.
“We are not allergic to the French, but to not utilising the capacity of the Polish (defence) industry,” Kownacki said. “We’d have to get really as much as possible from the French side to make this contract profitable for us,” he said.
Poland may be better off scrapping the deal and paying a potential fine, which may reach hundreds of millions of zlotys, than accepting the losses the contract would impose on the Polish defence industry, Kownacki was quoted as saying.
The negotiations are supposed to conclude by Feb. 10, the daily said. (Reporting by Wiktor Szary; Editing by Mark Potter)