Poland’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of National Defence Mariusz Błaszczak announced on May 30 that the nation has signed a deal with the US government to buy AGM-114 Hellfire air-to-ground missiles to equip its future Leonardo Helicopters AW149 and Boeing AH-64E Apache Guardian helicopter fleets.
A contract was signed by the Armament Agency of Poland’s Ministry of National Defence (MND) and the US Army Security Assistance Command (USASAC). The deal comes after the US State Department approved a possible Foreign Military Sale (FMS) of 800 AGM-114R2 Hellfire missiles – equipped with a semi-active laser homing guidance system and a K-charge multi-purpose warhead – four M36 Hellfire Captive Air Training Missiles (CATM) and related technical assistance and equipment to Poland for an estimated cost of $150m in March.
Deliveries of the AGM-114R2 Hellfire missile to Poland are scheduled to start this year and will continue until 2029. Lt Col Krzysztof Płatek, a spokesperson from the Polish MND’s Armament Agency, added that 70% of the missiles will go to the Polish Armed Forces through to the first half of 2026. The missile will initially be integrated onto the Polish Army’s future fleet of AW149 multi-role battlefield utility helicopters, the first of which is expected to be delivered before the end of this year. Poland announced it had purchased 32 AW149s in July 2022, with deliveries from PZL-Świdnik – a Polish company owned by Leonardo – set to take place between 2023-2029. These helicopters will equip Polish Army Aviation’s 25th Air Cavalry Brigade, which is headquartered at Tomaszów Mazowiecki.
Going forward, the AGM-114R2 Hellfire missile will also be carried by the Polish Army’s future fleet of AH-64E Apache Guardian attack helicopters. Warsaw revealed its plan to purchase 96 AH-64Es in September 2022 in a somewhat surprising move that suggests a total of six squadrons will be equipped with the Apache. However, until now, no additional details or advances in contract negotiations had been declared. On May 5, Błaszczak met with US Secretary of Defense Lloyd J Austin III in Washington DC to discuss Polish-American military cooperation and the deepening of military interoperability, among other things.
Following the meeting, Błaszczak said: “We have received assurances that the US Army will provide us with [gap-filler] Apache helicopters from its own stocks, even before the signing of the contract for the purchase of 96 AH-64 helicopters for the Polish Armed Forces. We have an agreement on eight AH-64. They will arrive in Poland when Polish pilots and technicians have been trained. However, I will say cautiously that we are unlikely to complete the training this year, but we will start training as soon as possible.” Interestingly, no variant was disclosed when referring to the gap-filler AH-64s that Poland will operate in the short term, meaning that this could either be made up of AH-64Ds or AH-64Es.
The attack helicopters will ultimately go to NATO’s eastern flank, where they will be operated by the Army’s 18th Mechanized Division, which will also be equipped with M1A2 Abrams main battle tanks. According to representatives from Boeing Defense and Space, if the Apache deal with Poland is signed, the production of the AH-64E at its facility in Mesa, Arizona, will be secured until 2030.