The Polish Ministry of Defence is analysing a possible purchase of 50-100 aircraft to replace the Polish Air Force's aging Sukhoi Su-22 strike aircraft and Mikoyan MiG-29 fighter aircraft.
"We consider various possibilities that would be beneficial, [including purchase of] F-16 aircraft; used or new or another solution. The optimal solution would be a purchase of 50-100 aircraft," Bartosz Kownacki, deputy defence minister responsible for defence procurement, told the government-owned Polish Press Agency (PAP).
"I think that during a month and a half we will have a clear idea if is worth buying used F-16s from the United States or new F-35s," he added. According to Kownacki, the aircraft Poland has been offered are older variants than the F-16C/D Block 52+ models currently used by the Polish Air Force. The F-16 option being considered would see Poland purchase 96 used F-16s (six squadrons) for PLN100 million (USD24 million) each to replace Poland's aging 32 MiG-29s and 32 Su-22s.
The deputy defence minister also added that extended support for the aircraft is expected to be conducted by WZL No.1 in Bydgoszcz. He said though that if Polish companies are involved in upgrading old aircraft then delivery to the air force is likely to take 10 years.
However, Kownacki suggested that now would be the wrong time to purchase the F-35, should that be the route the country opts for. In his view, had Poland enterer the programme five years ago, then Polish industry could have been involved. However, given the current price of the initial aircraft remains high it is worth Poland waiting a few years until "F-35 availability rises and the prices drop".
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