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Update: Poland formally requests F-35A combat aircraft

28 May 2019
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Poland has issued a formal request to the US for the procurement of 32 Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) combat aircraft, the country's defence minister announced on 28 May.

Seen here in Australian service, the F-35A has been requested by Poland as it looks to replace its ageing Warsaw-Pact inventory. (Lockheed Martin)Seen here in Australian service, the F-35A has been requested by Poland as it looks to replace its ageing Warsaw-Pact inventory. (Lockheed Martin)

Mariusz Blaszack said Poland has made the request as it looks to replace its Warsaw Pact-era fighter inventory under its Harpia programme. According to Jane'sWorld Air Forces, this ageing inventory comprises 21 MiG-29 'Fulcrum' and 26 Sukhoi Su-22 'Fitter' platforms.

Besides its elderly Soviet-built aircraft, the Polish Air Force also fields 48 Lockheed Martin F-16C/D Block 50+ Fighting Falcons. Although not mentioned in Blaszack's announcement on Twitter, it is likely that the F-35As will initially augment these aircraft before eventually replacing them.

Further to the F-35As, Poland's request includes a logistics and training package. No value or delivery timeline was given by the minister, but on 16 May it was disclosed by the Ministry of National Defence (MND) that a first squadron of 16 aircraft will be received before 2026, with a second squadron following after.

As previously reported by Jane's, Poland's request for the F-35A follows an Armament Inspectorate inquiry to the US Department of Defense for pricing and availability that was sent on 28 March. This request negated a letter sent on December 2018, in which the Armament Inspectorate requested details on the Lockheed Martin F-16 Block 70 Viper, Boeing F-15 Eagle and F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, and the F-35A.

The purchase of the F-35A is part of Poland's Technological Modernisation Plan 2017-26. In April Lockheed Martin representatives confirmed that it is possible to speed up the training of Polish pilots and technical personnel by two years by using US Air Force aircraft.

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