© AFP/File | Poland plans to buy at least 21 US Black Hawk helicopters from Airbus rival Lockheed Martin
WARSAW (AFP) – Poland said Wednesday it would launch a new tender process for military helicopters after talks to buy Airbus aircraft collapsed in acrimony.
The announcement comes a day after Defence Minister Antoni Macierewicz said that Poland plans to buy at least 21 US Black Hawk helicopters from Airbus rival Lockheed Martin.
“To comfort Airbus group I can only say that a new call for tenders will be launched and that they can participate,” government spokesman Rafal Bochenek said on Jedynka public radio.
He did not give any details about the tender process.
Warsaw has previously said that it is seeking between 50 and 70 new aircraft, to be manufactured in both Poland and abroad.
Airbus furiously criticised Warsaw on Tuesday over its handling of the failed deal, with Airbus chief executive Tom Enders saying his company had never been treated so badly by any government.
The spat has ratcheted up diplomatic tensions between Warsaw and Paris, which was backing Airbus in the process.
French President Francois Hollande has postponed a visit to Poland that was scheduled for Thursday.
There is disagreement over who actually ended the negotiations, with Poland at the weekend blaming Airbus for the breakdown in the talks over what would have been a contract worth more than three billion euros (dollars).
“I want to make it perfectly clear that it wasn’t the Polish side who broke off the talks,” Macierewicz told reporters Saturday in Warsaw.
The disagreement centred on Airbus’ commitment to create up to 6,000 jobs in Poland — the so-called “offset package”, according to Macierewicz.
But the short time between the collapse in talks with Airbus and the emergence of a possible deal with Lockheed has led some to speculate that Poland was in touch with the US manufacturer before the talks broke down.
Poland’s liberal opposition has called for a parliamentary probe into the contract process.