The US State Department has at last approved a Foreign Military Sale to furnish Poland’s Armed Forces with 96 AH-64E Apache helicopters. The US and Poland originally conceived the purchase in September last year.

Boeing has manufactured the AH-64 Apache attack helicopter since 1996. With the AH-64E in production until at least 2028, Boeing anticipates the Apache serving the US Army and its partner nations into the 2060s.

As Boeing and the US Army continue to invest in next generation technologies, the Apache brings affordable Modular Open Systems Architecture capability to serve as a centerpiece in the Multi-Domain Operations battlefield.

This rotorcraft deal marks the completion of Poland’s ‘Kruk’ programme to select and procure a modern attack helicopter fleet.

Poland opts for American systems

The $12bn (49.2bn zlotys) contract adds scope to the close defence ties formed between the US and Poland as both nations continue integrating their forces more than ever before.

Both forces operate American M1A2 SEPv3 Abrams main battle tanks, which the Polish Minister of National Defence claimed “these helicopters work great with Abrams tanks,” when negotiating a settlement with his US counterpart Lloyd J. Austin to procure the Apaches last year.

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Likewise, Poland also purchased a distributed interactive simulation-based systems integration laboratory worth $19.7m from the US Department of Defense (DoD) in June 2023.

The lab will allow Poland to build closer ties through interoperability with America, leveraging its sophisticated and emerging technologies, but also allowing the central European nation to become a hub for standard Nato weapon systems.

Poland’s air force structure and the AH-64E

Currently, the Polish Air Force flies four Russian rotorcraft models: the Mi-17, Mi-17AE, Mi-17-1V and the Mi-8MT, all of which Poland procured between 1987 and 1989 according to GlobalData intelligence.

The Kruk programme comes under Poland’s aim to modernise its platform portfolio, enabling the force to integrate with Nato allies and partners and to fulfil its greater ambition of becoming a hub for Nato-approved platforms and systems, for which America is the answer to their prayers.

In this spirit, the AH-64E helicopter is another platform among its widening portfolio of American-made assets. The Polish Air Force already inducted 36 F-16C and 12 F-16D units in 2003. The service is also waiting for the delivery of 32 F-35A Lightning II fighter jets due between 2024 and 2030.

Platform diversity across the armed forces

Poland is not exclusively interested in American platforms. The armed forces have incorporated a diverse range of platforms over the past two years.

Poland has agreed to induct South Korean K2 Black Panther main battle tanks, and it will produce them in Poland.

Similarly, Poland has adopted the British Arrowhead 140 concept for its Miecnik frigates, modelled on British Type 31s.

This diversity comes back to the country’s plan to become a rising star in Europe’s rejuvenating defence industry at a time of intense military build-up. Poland is looking to unseat competitors across the continent with its young but growing domestic defence industrial base.