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.
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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