U.S. Air Force F-35A Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter
U.S. Air Force F-35A Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter

Polish Ministry of National Defence Will Sign $4.6 Billion Deal for 32 F-35 Fighter Jets

The Polish Ministry of National Defence has confirmed that Polish Air Force (Siły Powietrzne) would buy 32 Lockheed Martin F-35A fighter jets and agreement would be signed on Friday, January 31, in Dęblin, Poland. The US Congress approved the Polish procurement of F-35As, with additional auxiliary equipment and services, to a maximum value of up to $6.5 billion. Meanwhile, as Polish Minister of Defense noted, Poland will pay $2 billion less, or $4.6 billion, which translates into PLN 17.8 billion. Polish Air Force is not a partner of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program and which like Poland is also not seeking offsets, they will pay $4.25 billion for the 34 F-35As that it is buying.

U.S. Air Force F-35A Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter
U.S. Air Force F-35A Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter

On 6 February 2014, the Polish Ministry of National Defence (Ministerstwo Obrony Narodowej) set out a budget in which its interests include buying 64 fifth-generation multi-role fighters that will not include the previous F-16 Fighting Falcon deals. Possible options are reportedly 64 F-35 fighters from 2021 to replace the MiG-29s operated by the Polish Air Force. In February 2019, Poland’s Minister of Defence Mariusz Błaszczak announced the signing of a military modernization plan. On 11 September 2019, the Department of Defense Security Cooperation Agency announced that Poland had been cleared to purchase 32 F-35A fighters, along with associated equipment, for an estimated cost of $6.5 billion. On 27 September 2019 the US Congress approved the sale.

Configuration of the three original F-35 variants. CTOL for conventional take-off and landing, STOVL for short take-off and vertical-landing, and CV for carrier variant
Configuration of the three original F-35 variants. CTOL for conventional take-off and landing, STOVL for short take-off and vertical-landing, and CV for carrier variant

The Lockheed Martin F-35A is the conventional takeoff and landing (CTOL) variant intended for the USAF and other air forces. It is the smallest, lightest version and is the only variant equipped with an internal cannon, the GAU-22/A. This 25 mm cannon is a development of the GAU-12 carried by the USMC’s AV-8B Harrier II. It is designed for increased effectiveness against ground targets compared to the 20 mm M61 Vulcan cannon carried by other USAF fighters. On 2 August 2016, the USAF declared the F-35A basic combat ready. The F-35A was scheduled to be fully combat-ready in 2017 with its 3F software upgrade.

 U.S. Air Force F-35A Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter
U.S. Air Force F-35A Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter

Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II procurement is the planned selection and purchase of the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II, also known as the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) by various countries. While the United States is the primary customer and financial backer, the United Kingdom, Italy, the Netherlands, Canada, Turkey, Australia, Norway and Denmark have agreed to contribute US$4.375 billion toward the development costs of the program. The nine major partner nations, including the U.S., plan to acquire over 3,100 F-35s through 2035, which, if delivered will make the F-35 one of the most numerous jet fighters.

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