Poland buys 32 helicopters from Italy's Leonardo

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WARSAW, July 1 (Reuters) - Poland has signed a contract worth 8.25 billion zlotys ($1.83 billion) to buy 32 AW149 helicopters from Italian defence group Leonardo (LDOF.MI), the Polish defence minister said on Friday.

"The contract... concerns 32 AW149 helicopters, so two squadrons, and the first helicopters will go to the Polish army next year," Mariusz Blaszczak said.

The multi-role helicopters will be built by Leonardo's Polish unit PZL Swidnik, and the contract includes logistics, training and simulator packages. They will be delivered between 2023 and 2029, Leonardo said in a statement.

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In the face of the war in Ukraine, Poland is modernizing its armed forces, and from next year wants to spend over 3% of gross domestic product on defence.

The new helicopters will carry out missions including troop transport and air support, and their equipment will allow them to be used for casualty evacuation, search and rescue in combat operations, and for the transport of goods and supplies, the statement added.

"We are proud to contribute to the constant increase of the security of the Polish nation, and to strengthen the industrial capabilities which are fundamental to the country's resilience and sovereignty,” Leonardo Chief Executive Alessandro Profumo said in the statement.

($1 = 4.5078 zlotys)

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Reporting by Paweł Florkiewicz, additional reporting by Giulia Segreti in Rome; Editing by Jan Harvey

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