Poland will sign an agreement with the US for the purchase of 32 F-35 fifth-generation fighter planes in late January, Defence Minister Mariusz Błaszczak told Polish Radio.
"We've basically finalised the negotiations, with only minor procedural issues still pending. I'm convinced that in January (...) we will sign an agreement with the US for the purchase of 32 F-35 planes, the most modern aircraft in the world," Mr Błaszczak said.
Asked about a precise date, Mr Błaszczak replied that the signing would take place in "late January."
Last year, Poland applied to the US government for the purchase of 32 state of the art fighter jets. So far, the United States and other countries have received 490 F-35s, including 134 in 2019. This year Lockheed Martin, the plane's producer, plans to deliver 141 more aircraft to its customers. Moreover, the jets are deployed in 21 bases around the world.
According to Lockheed Martin, the price of the A-version aircraft that Poland is interested in should peg below USD 80 mln. The first planes are to be made available to Poland in 2024, but would remain in the US for two more years, until pilots and ground crews have been trained.
After modernising its fighter fleet, Poland plans to get rid of its Soviet-era MiG-29 jets.
The modernisation scheme
Mr Błaszczak also said that the modernisation of Poland's Armed Forces wasn't limited to the Polish Air Force, as Poland’s Navy is to be strengthened by two submarines leased from Sweden.
Another pillar of the modernisation scheme is the establishment of the Armaments Agency that would replace the currently existing Armaments Inspectorate. The news that this year’s legislative activities of the Defence Ministry would involve the establishment of such an agency was announced by the ministry on Wednesday. The secretary of state said that further details on the topic would be revealed during a special meeting that is to be organised “in the coming days”.
The Armaments Agency “would centralise all matters relevant to armaments policy, commissioning and industrial cooperation. The agency will become a crucial entity that will carry out purchases in a similar way to the one practised by entities of [Poland’s] ally states,” said the secretary of state.
Poland's Armed Forces modernisation scheme is worth over PLN 500 bn (EUR 117.88 bn).