Poland on Monday formally launched a tender for 16 military helicopters following months of talks with aeronautics rivals Airbus, Lockheed Martin and Leonardo-Finmeccanica.
The defence ministry began the talks in October after calling off formal negotiations with France’s Airbus to buy 50 of its Caracal helicopters for several billion euros (dollars) in a move that ratcheted up tensions with France.
“A committee tasked with the negotiations invited the firms on Monday to present their offers” for the eight anti-submarine helicopters and another eight aircraft for the special forces, the ministry said in a statement.
After the Caracal row with Airbus, Warsaw announced it planned to buy at least 21 US Black Hawk helicopters from Lockheed Martin.
Warsaw had previously said it was seeking between 50 and 70 helicopters, to be manufactured in both Poland and abroad.
The European Union member drew a furious response from Airbus last year after it halted negotiations to buy its Caracal helicopters for an estimated 13.5 billion zloty (3.1 billion euros, $3.3 billion).
Chief executive Tom Enders said his company had never been treated so badly by any government.
The spat also ratcheted up diplomatic tensions between Warsaw and Paris and French President Francois Hollande postponed a visit to Poland.
There is disagreement over who actually ended the negotiations, with Poland blaming Airbus for the breakdown in the talks.
The dispute centred on Airbus’ commitment to create up to 6,000 jobs in Poland — the so-called “offset” package, according to the Polish side.
But the short time between the collapse in talks with Airbus and the emergence of a possible deal with Lockheed has led some to speculate that Poland was in touch with the US manufacturer before the talks broke down.