Oct 27, 2011 By Gabriela Baczynska/Reuters - AviationWeek.com
WARSAW - Poland has scrapped a 1.45 billion zloty ($456 million) tender for training-combat aircraft in which Korean Aerospace Industries (KAI) had faced off against Italy’s Alenia Aermacchi in final talks, the defense ministry said on Thursday.
The ministry will now launch a tender focusing solely on the jets’ training capabilities, which could attract more bidders after companies from Finland and the Czech Republic pulled out of the current tender for 16 aircraft.
Britain’s BAE Systems also pulled out, saying Warsaw had to decide between training or combat jets.
“The defense ministry is preparing to launch a new tender to buy a typical training jet,” Deputy Defense Minister Marcin Idzik told a news conference.
Poland, the biggest ex-communist NATO member, urgently needs to modernize its ageing air fleet, especially its training aircraft, after a series of deadly accidents laid bare deficiencies in the air force’s training procedures.
The nation has seen several military aircraft accidents in recent years, most notably in April 2010 when a plane carrying the country’s president, Lech Kaczynski, crashed while trying to land in thick fog in western Russia, killing all 96 on board.
In 2008, 20 high-ranking air force personnel returning from an air safety conference were killed when their plane crashed in woodland in northern Poland.
In both cases, final reports from the incidents highlighted insufficient training and disregard for safety procedures.
Prime Minister Donald Tusk dismissed his defense minister after a report on last year’s crash in Russia showed recommendations after the 2008 accident had not been implemented and that similar factors contributed to the second disaster.