US State Department approves sale of F-35 to Poland

The United States Department of State approved the possible purchase of F-35 fighter jets by Poland, Reuters news agency reported.

“We’re waiting for Congressional approval and then we’ll be beginning price negotiations,” said Polish Defence Minister, Mariusz Błaszczak. He referred to the possible purchase as “the most important deal in the history of the Polish Armed Forces”.

The Polish government expressed interest in purchasing 32 of the jets, under the Harpia program, part of a broader Armed Forces modernisation effort. The Polish Air Force currently operates American-made F-16 and Soviet-manufactured Mig-29 fighter jets. The latter would be phased out after the F-35 deliveries.

Lockheed Martin Corporation claimed that the F-35 fighters, if purchased by Poland, could reach initial operational capability in 2024, with all deliveries finished by 2026. The estimated cost of 32 jets, along with the training program, would be around USD 6.5 bn.

The Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II is a fifth generation multirole fighter jet with stealth capabilities, developed and manufactured by a multinational consortium of aeronautical and defence companies. It's the world’s only fifth generation fighter in use by multiple countries, including the US, Italy, the Netherlands, the UK, Norway, Denmark, Israel, Japan, South Korea and Australia.