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Friday, February 5, 2016

Airbus Resists Rumors of Collapsed Poland Deal

Guillaume Faury, CEO of Airbus Helicopters, in a statement Friday spoke out against media speculation that Poland's newly Eurosceptic government had canceled a $3 billion provisional deal to acquire 50 H225M Caracal military airframes. 
Citing Poland's Rzeczpospolita newspaper, Sky News and other sources had announced the deal’s cancellation, which they said received inside information from an unnamed member of the Polish defense ministry. Sky News said the decision “could strain relations with France, where the aircraft are made and the performance of the manufacturing sector and wider economy have been sluggish” and also “could also hold back a military programme that was accelerated over the Ukraine crisis by Poland's previous government.”
The deal’s fate has long been questioned by media sources following what many perceive as Poland’s increasing political distance from European Union policies. Before its rise to power last October, the right-wing Law and Justice party had said it would block the deal for French-built Airbus helicopters in favor of locally produced helicopters. Both Sikorsky and AgustaWestland have production facilities in Poland. Citing Rzeczpospolita, The Star Online said Poland "has begun negotiations with Lockheed Martin's Sikorsky, manufacturer of the locally-produced Black Hawk helicopters that could be purchased by the Polish army as soon as this year."
The Law and Justice party might desire a Polish deal with that defense contractor—and by extension, stronger ties with the U.S.—in light of recent decisions heavily criticized by the international community, including its recent passage of a law allowing the conservative government to replace senior state-run television and radio officials. In response to that and other moves, Foreign Affairs magazine has called on the U.S. to "pressure the Polish government, which is keen to strengthen NATO's presence in Poland and is set to host a NATO summit this year, by making it clear that it expects its ally to adhere to democratic values."
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