The first F-35 fighter aircraft that Poland is planning to order would be “ready in 2024”, Polish Defense Minister Mariusz Błaszczak said in an interview with Polish Radio. He also confirmed that the conclusion of the F-35 acquisition agreement is planned for next week.
The agreement would cover 32 aircraft and the negotiation process has practically been concluded. Błaszczak emphasized the fact that introduction of the F-35 would provide the Polish Air Force with air superiority, comparing its significance to introduction of the F-16 in the early 2000s. When asked about deliveries, he said that Poland should expect the first aircraft to be ready in 2024.
Błaszczak noted that F-35 also brings in reconnaissance and command capabilities as well. He added that acquisition of the type has been made possible thanks to the fact that Poland and the US remain on very good terms. He added that the F-35 procurement is particularly significant within the context of replacing the Polish Air Force’s MiG-29 fighters.
Poland requested acquisition of 32 F-35A multi-role combat aircraft (MRCA) in May 2019, with consent issued by the Department of State and by the US Congress in the autumn that year. The maximum value of the deal has been set at the level of $6.5 billion. The final amount is probably going to be lower than that, and unofficial estimates mention approximately $4 billion. The primary FMS agreement does not cover the infrastructure or armament purchases, which would be subject to separate contracts.
As we reported in the past, the MoD decided to skip the offset in its F-35 acquisition. The Ministry says that the above is motivated by savings (amount exceeding 1 billion dollars).
The Polish MoD has also declared Poland’s willingness to join the “Loyal Wingman” UAV programme at the very early stage to secure the potential industrial benefits that this could bring. However, when it comes to the F-35 programme, it is planned that collaboration agreements would be signed according to the business-to-business formula, by and between Polish and US-based entrepreneurs, even though those contracts would have no direct ties to the fighter acquisition.
Lockheed Martin representatives said in Kielce last year, during the MSPO exhibition, that the first four Polish F-35 could be delivered as early as in 2024. However, these would not be sent to Poland, but remain at Luke AFB in Arizona for training.
During the Kielce event it was declared that the first F-35A squadron of the Polish Air Force would become operational by 2026, with the second one reaching the same status by 2030.