On December 8, a momentous event took place at the 44th Naval Aviation Base in Darlowo, marking a milestone in the work of modernizing naval aviation equipment.The official acceptance of Leonardo AW101 multi-role helicopters purchased to strengthen the capabilities of the Naval Aviation Brigade had a ceremonial character. On this occasion, not only the technological capabilities of these helicopters were presented, but also highlighted the cooperation of WSK PZL Świdnik S.A. with Leonardo, a key partnership initiated by an agreement signed on April 26, 2019[1].

An agreement between WSK PZL Świdnik S.A., a subsidiary of the Leonardo concern, and the Armament Inspectorate has resulted in the purchase of four AW101 helicopters adapted to the specific requirements of a naval aviation unit. The helicopters were ordered in a ZOP[2] configuration with a CSAR module[3], although the details of this configuration remain confidential[4], highlighting the strategic nature of the equipment.

The journey leading up to the ceremony, which took place on December 8, began with a technical flight of the first AW101 helicopter in July 2021. This represented a key phase of the certification program, which rigorously tested the helicopters’ capabilities for a total of 700 hours in the air. The extensive testing process demonstrated that the helicopters meet the rigorous standards required of armaments intended for use during naval operations, confirming their reliability and effectiveness during a variety of naval scenarios.

As part of a broader offset agreement related to this order, the beneficiaries were Wojskowe Zakłady Lotnicze No. 1 S.A. in Lodz and Gdansk University of Technology. This strategic decision not only supports the domestic defense industry, it also supports aeronautics research and development, strengthening Poland’s commitment to developing its technological capabilities[5].

The arrival of Leonardo AW101 helicopters is a key moment in the ongoing Marine aviation modernization program. These state-of-the-art helicopters offer a comprehensive set of capabilities, combining the features of a multi-role platform with specialized configurations tailored to the unique needs of the Naval Aviation Brigade. The ZOP configuration, combined with a confidential CSAR module, positions these helicopters as a powerful force in naval operations, capable of performing a wide variety of missions with precision and efficiency.

Looking to the future, the Naval Aviation Brigade is ready to leverage the advanced capabilities of the AW101 helicopters to enhance maritime security and effectively respond to changing threats. Adding these helicopters to the operational fleet, will contribute to the country’s defense readiness, underscoring Poland’s commitment to maintaining a technologically advanced and combat-capable naval aviation force. The ceremony held on December 8 is a testament to the successful cooperation between industry and the military and symbolizes a step forward in the nation’s pursuit of state-of-the-art defense capabilities.


Tekst powstał w ramach realizacji zadania publicznego zleconego w ramach Rządowego Programu Rozwoju Organizacji Obywatelskich na lata 2018–2030 r. „Bezpieczna Polska jutra – rozwój działań misyjnych Alioth Foundation”.



Photo: Agencja Uzbrojenia, https://www.special-ops.pl/artykul/z-ostatniej-chwili/110716,pierwszy-smiglowiec-aw101-jest-juz-w-polsce [accessed: 27.12.2023r]

[1] First AW101 delivered to the Naval Aviation Brigade – online, https://zbiam.pl/pierwsze-aw101-dostarczone-do-brygady-lotnictwa-marynarki-wojennej/ [accessed: 20.12.2023r]

[2] ZOP – machines built in ZOP configuration, which means that their main purpose and mission is Submarine Warfare missions

[3] CSAR module –  Combat Search and Rescue, which means they will also be capable of performing search-and-rescue missions under wartime conditions

[4] Ibidem.

[5] Ibidem.