The American Foreign Military Sales (FMS) has validated the Polish request for 96 AH-64E Apache helicopters as well as a large stock of ammunition, all for $12 billion. While the future of the combat helicopter is contested, what will be the future of this possible new Polish arms order?
$12 billion! This is the astronomical amount endorsed by the American Foreign Military Sales, concerning the next order from the Polish Ministry of Defense , to equip and arm the anti-tank component of its future fleet of combat helicopters.
It must be said that in this area, as in many others, Warsaw is thinking big. Judge for yourself: 96 Boeing AH-64E Apache combat helicopters, the latest evolution of the famous aircraft, but also 1,844 AGM-144R2 Hellfire anti-tank missiles, 460 AGM-179A JAGM anti-tank missiles, 508 FIM-92K Stinger air-to-air missiles as well as 37 AN/APG-78 radars and 96 AN/APR-48B MRFI 2 interferometers.
Added to this is a large batch of spare parts, simulators as well as a substantial training service. If this order were to be placed in its entirety, the Polish Armed Forces would not only be the second largest operator of the AH-64E in the world, but would also have the largest fleet of heavy combat helicopters in Europe.
How does Foreign Military Sales or FMS work?
However, this excess of equipment and costs must be taken with caution, because it is, in fact, only a maximum authorization given by the Foreign Military Sales, or FMS, to its allies.
Created to facilitate exports of defense equipment from American industry to its allies, the FMS allows the allies of the United States to acquire military equipment to the standards and conditions obtained by the Pentagon for its own armies.
Its role is to streamline the integration of export orders into the production flow, and to guarantee greater homogeneity of the fleets deployed around the world, so as to facilitate maintenance and development. It also allows you to benefit, theoretically, from lower production costs with larger series.
In fact, the approval and prices given by the FMS are only valid through its own specifications, namely the integration of the production planned in current planning, with the prices applied to the American forces.
Thus, it is customary for the FMS to systematically estimate the largest envelope requested by the allies of the United States, knowing that “who can do more, can do less”. Very often, the contracts finally signed, which must also obtain the approval of the American executive and Congress to be validated, are significantly lower than the estimates given.
The case of the future Polish order
In the case of Poland, however, it is very possible that the resulting order is very close to the estimate given by the FMS. Indeed, it is unlikely that the Polish authorities will revise downwards the volume of the fleet which has become a political marker, if indeed the PiS actually wins the legislative elections in October.
Otherwise, on the other hand, we can expect a profound questioning of several contracts currently being negotiated today, the cumulative costs of which we know will weigh heavily in the future on the economic health of the country. .
Put more trivially, if the PiS wins the upcoming elections, everything suggests that the contract estimated by the FMS will be fully executed, even if its timetable has not yet been made public, leaving a certain margin of maneuver to the Polish leaders.
Otherwise, we can expect that this contract will simply be consigned to oblivion, and that the new government will already have its work cut out to renegotiate the contracts signed and entered into execution to preserve public finances.
The Boeing AH-64E Apache combat helicopter
An evolution of the AH-64D Longbow Apache, the AH-64E benefits from numerous improvements, including new T700-GE-701D turbines each delivering 1,994 hp, 104 more than the Longbow's T700-GE-701C. This increase in power, and a new composite rotor, allow it to reach a higher cruising speed, a higher altitude and give it greater maneuverability.
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