Procurement: Poland Takes The Heat In The Philippines


December 14, 2010: The Philippines has halted an order for Polish helicopters, claiming corruption that the government admits it has no proof of. It was only a few months ago, after several years of negotiations, that the Philippines ordered eight W-3A transport helicopters from Polish firm PZL-Swidnik. The six ton W-3 was originally developed in Poland in the 1970s and was sold to other East European nations, as a competitor to the Russian Mi-8. When the Cold War ended, the W-3 was upgraded and certified to operate in Western countries. The twin engine W-3 can carry twelve passengers. Some W-3s were used with Polish troops in Iraq, and it is now serving in Afghanistan. 

There is also a W-3PL "battle support" helicopter version, and some of these are with Polish troops in Afghanistan. This is not a gunship, but it has an armored floor, and is otherwise not as robust as choppers specifically built as gunships. The W-3PL has a radar, HUD (head up display), anti-missile system (detectors and flare dispensers) and is armed with a 12.7mm machine-gun turret under the nose, There are winglets for carrying rockets and missiles.

The Philippines bought the W-3 because the aircraft had a good track record, and it was, like the Russian Mil-8, cheap (in this case, $8.5 million each). But the main reason for buying the W-3s was that Swidnik was the only bidder. The Philippines was unwilling to pay higher prices all other helicopter manufacturers were asking. But even with Swidnik's low price, Filipino officials were not satisfied, and now contend that Swidnik's price should be cut 12.5 percent. It appears that the Philippines either wants to get out of the deal, or is trying to negotiate another discount. Corruption in defense procurement is a big problem in the Philippines, but it's unclear if that is the major problem here.






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