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Poland will acquire 32 F-35A Lightning II 5th generation multirole fighter aircraft for US$4,6 billion (€4,1 billion). Deliveries should commence in 2024-2025.

The Polish Ministry of Defence (MoD) signed a contract for delivery of 32 F-35A Lightning II multirole fighter aircraft during a special ceremony held at the 4th Training Aviation Wing in Deblin last Friday. The event was presided by the President of Poland, Andrzej Duda, Prime Minister, Mateusz Morawiecki and the Minister of Defence, Mariusz Blaszczak.

According to the agreement, deliveries of the future Polish F-35A fighter aircraft will commence in 2024-2025. By that time Poland should take delivery of the 1st batch of six aircraft. However, in the initial phase, they will be kept in the U.S. and serve for training of Polish pilots and maintenance personnel. These aircraft should be transferred to Poland in 2025-2026.

Subsequently, Poland will receive 4-6 F-35s each year until 2030, when the full fleet of Polish F-35 aircraft should be officially handed over and fielded.

The plan for procurement of next generation fighter aircraft under the ‘Harpia’ programme was announced in late 2018. Initially, the Polish MoD intended to launch an international, open tender, during which a number of manufacturers could present their combat platforms and sale offers.

However, in Spring 2019 Blaszczak announced that his department decided to drop the plan for an open tender, and confirmed that Poland selected the U.S. F-35A Lightning II as the future multirole fighter platform. Shortly after both countries launched negotiations for the future procurement, which would eventually be conducted under the Foreign Military Sale (FMS) programme.

The future F-35A fighter aircraft will replace the currently operated MiG-29 fighter and Su-22 bomber/fighter aircraft, which no longer meet the requirements of the modern battlefield, and supplement a fleet of 48 F-16C/D Block 52+ jets, which the Polish Air Force procured in the beginning of 2000s.

Michal Jarocki