Ryszard Jaxa-Małachowski - aviation engineer, employed in the Polish aviation industry and later assistant professor at Warsaw Polytechnic. He currently runs his own consulting company specializing in aviation market.
The Aviation Opportunities
The Weimar Triangle offers development opportunities for aviation and weapons industry. Currently the most important project was a tender from Euromissile for the delivery of HOT?3 antitank missiles and Viviane sighting system for Huzar attack helicopter. The contract could make Poland Euromissile?s partner and supplier as well as include Polish military industry and R&D organizations in projects which could lead to new, sophisticated products. Close, long term, collaboration seemed to be fully possible. Unfortunately, the Franco-German consortium will probably not win the order.
Despite problems both the French and Germans had not given up and recently decided to invest in the Sokół. HOT missiles and Vivianne sights are to be installed on one of prototypes. Such craft will be then tested and later offered to potential buyers. Thefirst of those will be Austrian Army which already deploys HOT missiles. This may open door to future collaboration, however not as extensive as it would have been. In the field of weaponry, Euromissile can offer much more: anitiaricraft missiles for LOARA system which is under development and the new generation of long distance fibre glass guided missiles, etc. This creates other possibilities for collaboration among three nations.
Recently DASA - Daimler Benz Aerospace - has offered the Polish Air Force the opportunity to upgrade its MiG?29 fighters. The project was developed in Germany but uses a large number of French made products - mainly from Sextant Avionique - which is already present in the Polish market. If the proposal is approved, the MiGs will be modernised at Bydgoszcz with German assistance. This might be a very first step for future collaboration as this aircraft will stay in front line service for some 20 years.
Even greater opportunities loom on the horizon. Both the German and French aviation industries are in the Airbus Industry consortium, which is trying to sell its long distance liner A340 to LOT Polish Airlines. If the plane is selected by LOT might be followed by significant offset for Polish aviation industry. Even without the order, European aviation manufacturers are eager to introduce Poland into its aviation branch after consolidation of Polish industry. For Poland, this may bring badly needed stabilization and long term perspective. As a result Poland might join the jumbo A3XX program and the project for the desperately needed military transport plane known as a FLA.
Other opportunity is arising with Eurocopter, the consortium of Aerospatiale of France and DASA. Poland will not be able to manufacture all the helicopters it needs. This is why projects like the transport helicopter NH?90 or the attack helicopter Tiger might be of high interest to Polish Army. They might also lead to profitable industrial collaboration.
It is worth to asking what Poland can bring to its potential partners. First, Poland is a market of 40 million citizens and it plays a leading rule in the Central Europe. Second, Poland offers lover manufacturing costs and highly skilled personnel. Both those factors are of extreme impotence for potential partners. For Poland, will be important to exploit international aviation workshare market as well as gain access to modern technologies, which are critical for future development of the country.
In conclusion might be said that all three nations might be profitable with joint efforts and that the oportunities will not be lost.