Leonardo Celebrates the Opening of PZL-Swidnik's Production
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This news is classified in: Defense Helicopters

Jun 4, 2024

Leonardo Celebrates the Opening of PZL-Swidnik's Production Line for the AW149 Helicopters of the Polish Armed Forces

Less than two years following contract signature, localised AW149 production is now being undertaken through PZL-Swidnik, the Polish-owned Leonardo company

Leonardo is a long-term strategic partner of the Polish Ministry of Defence and the company has been based in the country for more than 30-years

Leonardo, a global leader in aerospace, defence, and security, has shown strong commitment to Poland through strategic partnerships and investments to the country’s defence capabilities, further confirmed with the latest key milestone achieved today. Today PZL-Swidnik, the Polish company fully-owned by Leonardo, celebrated the opening of the production line for the AW149 helicopters of the Polish Armed Forces and launch of the new, localised manufacturing activities fulfilling its commitment to the new helicopter programme.

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The company’s dedication to technology transfer and local production has contributed to growth in the country’s skills base and this has enabled new technologies to be delivered quickly to the customer, ensuring the Polish Armed Forces are equipped to meet challenges in the battlespace with the latest-generation multirole AW149 military helicopter.

The official opening ceremony took place in the presence of representatives and dignitaries from national and local institutions, Leonardo, PZL- Swidnik, and partner companies. This achievement marks a new technological era for both PZL-Swidnik plants along with the national supply chain and military service.

A part of Leonardo, PZL-Swidnik leverages unique industrial advantages in terms of speed of deliveries and flexibility to meet challenging deadlines and emergency requirements considering the geopolitical scenario. The very first AW149s were produced in Vergiate (Italy), where Polish workers took on-job training and secured timely deliveries within a tight time schedule, handing over helicopters 15 months since contract signing. The majority of the Polish Armed Forces’ AW149 will be produced in Poland.

The Polish MoD’s AW149 programme is based on localised production through PZL-Swidnik, which is a strategic decision of Poland to secure both national security and key industrial benefits. The contract for 32 AW149s was signed in Swidnik in 2022 and also covers the integration of the helicopter's systems, dedicated armament, future modernisations and technical support through the entire life cycle of the Polish AW149 fleet. Thanks to local production Poland gains a domestic logistics base and technical facilities located close to the Polish Land Forces, in addition to state-of-the-art helicopters.

Gian Piero Cutillo, Managing Director of Leonardo Helicopters, said: “PZL-Swidnik is an example of the highest level of excellence within our organisation, obtaining very good results in all areas and has great potential for further development. In line with this, there are growing requirements for our company based in Swidnik to continue to evolve from a manufacturer to a key market player that manages complex contracts and deliveries. The Polish MoD programme of AW149 is a clear example of this today.

“The localisation of industrial and logistical capabilities for these new helicopters to meet Poland’s needs, leverage the long established and unique capabilities of PZL-Swidnik and its professional skills combined with the outstanding operational capabilities of the AW149s will deliver unparalleled advantages to the country.”     

Jacek Libucha, President of PZL-Swidnik said: “The past year was a period of multi-million investments, including infrastructure, equipment and facilities, specifically in the building where full production of the AW149 is now located. Along with the production of the AW149, we start new era for Swidnik plants – this was clear to me from very beginning when I was appointed CEO of PZL-Swidnik – we have needed a new most modern helicopter production line to develop our expertise, which must come with state-of-the-art technology transfer. This also meets the Armed Forces’ high-end needs and those helicopters will provide them the best-in-class combat support. This is what the platform has been designed for.”

The new production line is an accelerator of change as it was when PZL-Swidnik became a centre of excellence for helicopter aerostructure and contributed to the launch of the AW139 programme several years ago. Now, slightly more than a decade, the revenues of PZL-Swidnik have more than quadrupled, generating greater export sales and an expanding technological and product base. The Swidnik based business has grown significantly over the year, by acquiring new contracts, leveraging technological and capability investments guaranteed by Leonardo to become a solid player in the competitive market.

In Poland, at PZL-Swidnik a total of 3,240 employees (20% of which are engineers) are devoted to serve its customers, while Polish Military is recognised as a strategic one. PZL-Swidnik employs ambitious staff, of which engineers constitute 20%, young starters are a growing number, and the highest level (level-1) test pilots meet current and future needs of the Polish Army and other customers. These pilots performed a dynamic display of the AW149 during today’s ceremony.