Five Companies Interested In Poland’s Next Generation Fighter Program “Harpia”

Dec 22 2017 - 41 Comments
By Jacek Siminski

Contenders could be F-35, Eurofighter Typhoon, Gripen, Advanced Super Hornet and second-hand F-16 jets.

According to a news piece published by Dziennik Zbrojny today, five entities have expressed their will to participate in the market analysis initiative concerning the potential procurement of new fighter aircraft, referred to as “Harpia” (harpy eagle).

The operational requirement for this program is defined as “Enhancing the capability to carry out missions within the framework of offensive and defensive combat against the enemy air power, as well as missions carried out for the purpose of supporting land, naval and special operations – “Multi-Role Combat Aircraft” and “Airborne Electronic Jamming Capabilities.”

The companies that expressed their interest in the Multi-Role Combat Aircraft portion of the initiative include: Saab AB, Lockheed Martin, Boeing Company, Leonardo S.p.A. and Fights-On Logistics. Meanwhile, the Airborne Electronic Jamming segment of the procurement would see involvement in case of three potential contractors: Saab AB, Elbit Systems EW and SIGINT – Elisra Ltd., and Griffin working together with Elta Systems Ltd, as Tomasz Dmitruk of Dziennik Zbrojny reports.

When it comes to multi-role combat aircraft, the only true versatile platform operated by the Polish Air Force is the F-16: 48 jets of this type have been used by Poland for more than a decade now; MiG-29 Fulcrums are used primarily in an air-to-air role, while Su-22 Fitters are tasked with air-to-ground missions. Dziennik Zbrojny suggests that the new aircraft sought by the Armament Inspectorate of the Polish MoD (Polish armament procurement organ), would replace the legacy Soviet designs heading towards the ends of their life-cycle, with replacement of the Su-22 being more critical.

It seems that the participants would offer the following designs to the Polish Air Force: F-35 (Lockheed Martin), Advanced Super Hornet (Boeing), Eurofighter (with Leonardo leading the consortium bid), Gripen (Saab AB), and second-hand F-16s.

However, putting the matter into a wider perspective, we cannot think of procurement of new fighter aircraft to be certain in Poland. The Polish military still needs to enhance its air/missile defense systems, within the scope of Wisła, Narew and Noteć programs, for instance. Wisła program has a price tag of whooping 10.5 Billion USD, defined as the maximum procurement value by the US DSCA agency which deals with the FMS (Foreign Military Sales) procedure management.

Furthermore, the Polish MoD is also looking forward to acquiring Orka next generation submarines, Homar rocket artillery systems, attack and multi-role helicopters – even though no procurement has been launched with regard to these requirements, this does not mean that the need disappears.

If one adds Płomykówka (SIGINT) and Rybitwa (Maritime Patrol Aircraft) procurements to the list, it seems that the priority shall not go first to the multi-role combat aircraft. And the above programs are just the tip of the iceberg – as land forces and newly-established Territorial Defense service of the Polish military also have significant equipment-related requirements.

Taking all of the above factors into account, it remains probable that Harpia would be significantly delayed, and we will not be seeing new fighter assets in the Polish Air Force anytime soon. If acquisition of new multi-role combat aircraft is accelerated, then this should be done with the use of funding provided outside the Polish defense budget (as happened in case of the F-16s a decade ago), or priorities ascribed to the ongoing procurement initiatives shall be redefined and evaluated once again. For instance, Warsaw would have to resign from acquiring helicopters or submarines, to have funds that would be sufficient to procure the new jets.

Image Credit: Filip Modrzejewski / Foto Poork

  • leroy

    Too bad money is so short. What Poland needs are F-35s in order to fly into Russian airspace and take out systems like S400, BUK, others. F-35 will decimate missile batteries as well as tanks, infantry fighting vehicles, artillery launchers, rocket launchers, etc. Of course in A-A mode Russian fighters wouldn’t stand a chance. They’d drop from the skies like birds frozen by a thunderstorm. So what to do? Find some used F-16s, buy them. and get them SLEP’d and updated with the latest electronics and targeting systems. Should be an affordable option, and well able to handle anything Russia can throw at it. Especially their fighters.

    • Pepe Le Cox

      Son!! I told you not to smoke that s%&$# early in the morning! :D

    • Thomas Leor

      “What Poland needs are F-35s in order to fly into Russian airspace and take out systems like S400, BUK, others.”

      Yeah, right. Keep dreaming…

    • Pawel66

      At least one squadron of F35. The rest can be upgraded F16 or new Grippens.

    • Holztransistor

      You have lost any connection to reality. Are you even aware that you are constantly asking for WW3 and your own destruction?

    • Joe Trader

      F-35s are indeed the best option, but F-16s were ruled out by the ministry of defense within the past year, they released findings from a report. The cost savings to refurbish used F-16s isn’t significant. Poland has already taken delivery of JASSM, and placed an order for JASSM-ER, they said they wanted their own satellite for targeting, no updates on that. They also said this harpia program will likely be put off until the late 2020s. It would be nice if they found several tonnes of gold on a train in reise, it’s probably best if they just develop their economy as much as possible instead. The other issue is the next E.U. budget will be set in 2020 – which will be interesting in light of Poland’s perfectly fine stance against migrants, and its push to purge communist judges – also fine, but of course not by the filthy EU politicians in brussels. Also keep in mind, one of Poland’s main goals is to have a permanent full scale NATO base in Poland. The rotational forces scheme is just a way to get NATO’s foot in the door, but that’s the direction things are slowly headed in.

    • Holztransistor

      Talking about war again huh? The point is that Russia doesn’t want war. But you obviously do. They know very well what that means. The Americans don’t. They were isolated from the rest of the world. But not anymore. There are weapons now that can reach your territory. So if you do something stupid, you will have to face the consequences.

      Russia knows very well that they have to strike targets far behind the front lines to get to the command posts. And that’s what they did in 2008 in Georgia.

    • franciwzm

      Gripen plus meteor and scalp would be a much better combo in my opinion.

      • Qba

        And can be made in Poland.

        • Jacek Siminski

          You are not serious. This claim is not serious. Sorry,

    • Black Eagle

      No one needs the F-35s in order to fly in Russian airspace since something like this is nevertheless impossible and not even the U.S. dares to try it, leave alone the Poland, country that still depends on the Soviet equipment. Not to mention how ridiculous all this sounds, but we use to on your hopeless stories.

      You don’t realize all air bases in Poland are in range of the Iskander missile systems and S-400s deployed in the Kaliningrad that can struck anything on the Polish soil within just few minutes. Poland can barely afford any war with Russia, this goes for every other NATO member state as well.

      • leroy

        That’s why there’s something called NATO. Luckily we planned for Russian (historical) aggression after the fall of their Imperial USSR. We expanded NATO Eastward so former captive nations would never again be subjugated by Moscow.

        • Holztransistor

          The NATO expansion is another broken promise.

          When the reunification of Germany happened the western politicians made the promise that NATO was not to be expanded. A lie, like so man others from the west.

          • Andrew Tubbiolo

            We broke a promise given verbally. Not on paper. We broke a promise to the likes of Russia. After the Krasnoyarsk ABM RADAR and the SS-23 … where’s here’s that violin?

            • Holztransistor

              The promise was made nonetheless and it was aired in TV.

              So essentially you’re saying the word of western politicians is worth nothing? That is indeed nothing new.

        • Black Eagle

          After the USSR, there wasn’t any act of aggression from Russia but what we could actually seen was continuous U.S. presence in Europe, even moving its nuclear arsenal there, building new ABMs and expansion of the NATO. NATO’s expansion to the east is currently the only act of provocation and imperialism, fortunately Russia managed to stop this in Ukraine. Moscow plays far bigger game with the most powerful economies in the world (BRICS) and several of its former satellite states are still loyal to Russia (CIS, CSTO) it has no need to subjugate the rest.

      • leroy

        Isklander and S400 in Kaliningrad? F-35 will take care of that. Easily! JDAM, Paveway or Small diameter bombs.

        • Holztransistor

          What you just mentioned, a small airstrike on a Russian enclave will do what? Will it be the start of a big invasion of Russian territory? But if NATO does that, who is the aggressor? Hmm?

          You are spreading war propaganda.

        • Qba

          F-16 and Gripen have JDAM, Paveway and SDB.

        • Black Eagle

          That’s why there are also Pantsir-S1s and other short-range and medium-range air defense complexes, they protect the big boys (S-300/400s and Iskanders) and will take care of any munitions someone may try to drop on it. Afterwards, the S-400s will clear the sky and Iskanders will struck the air bases with cruise missiles. The war would be over before the aggressor (in this case the Poland trying to attack the Kaliningrad) would have any chance to realize what happened.

      • leroy

        Isklander and S400 in Kaliningrad? F-35 will take care of that. Easily! JDAM, Paveway or Small diameter bombs.

    • Curtis Conway

      Even if Poland does get new/used multi-mission fighter aircraft the helo requirement will not go away, nor missile defense, nor armored equipment upgrades and other items. So the aircraft selection will have an influence on other upgrade efforts necessitating the most efficient choices possible. An example would be an H-1 helo selection for medium attack and multi-mission utility helicopters with their 80+% commonality, and perhaps commonality with a neighboring country’s equipment providing even more efficiency in the similar logistics equation. It may even be advantageous for Poland, and some of her neighbors to perform a significant (NATO compliant Western equipment) upgrade to their Air Defense Mig-29s. Simplifying the missile defense to an Aegis Ashore upgrade may be possible and cost effective except for mobile components. Strength in numbers and efficiencies in common logistics can bring more capability to the overall conglomerate European force structure.

      • leroy

        I’m in agreement with you on everything except MiG-29. Not worth the money to upgrade. F-16 a better way to go IMO.

        • Curtis Conway

          The Mig-29 Energy vs. Maneuverability is truly extraordinary, and it can fly faster when necessary. It wan operate off of austere airfields, which the F-16 simply cannot do safely.

    • PierreAyc

      The day Poland penetrates Russian airspace to strike a target, it becomes the agressor. As a result, the conditions set by the NATO treaty for mutual defense collapse, and Poland finds itself on its own to deal with the consequences of its agression.

      The next day, Poland ceases to exist, and Russia gets a little bit larger, without a single third party nation interfering, because they won’t be legally binded to, and because they aren’t crazy enough to go to war with Russia for a country that has shown nothing but utter disrespect and duplicity towards its partners over the last 10 years.

      Brilliant plan, Leroy, as usual…

      • leroy

        Um, we’re talking if Russia moves first. Against all of Eastern Europe, which they seem to be threatening to do with all their recent Western Military District snap-exercises. That’s the premise, and that’s the reason Poland needs F-35s. Or at least would be best served by them if they purchase the aircraft for their AF. Then they’d attack as part of a coordinated NATO response. The U.S. and Germany, UK, Italy, Romania, the Baltics, et al would be right there fighting (and winning) alongside them.

        Why would Poland attack Russia? Russia is the present day and historical aggressor Peeiuu, and Poland suffered mightily when they were invaded by Russia and Moscow’s ally Germany on 1 September 1939 and 17 September 1939 (obviously Germany went first. Russia soon followed). Mass butchery and destruction on an unbelievable scale if you’re able to recall your history.

        I hope the Polish people remember. My recommendation to them? Recall Warsaw in the early 1940s. Zamosc and Bialystok too. Remember what happened to you and then? Do everything in your power as a nation and people to make sure it never happens again. Find a way to buy F-35 – as if your lives depended on it. Some day, they very well may. If I were them, I’d dig deep!

        • PierreAyc

          No you’re not talking if Russia moves first. You were talking about penetrating Russian airspace to destroy targets in Russia…

          If Russia moves first (in Leroy’s wildest dreams), then the response won’t be a Polish response, but a NATO response, and the question of whether Poland has stealth fighters or not will be irrelevant. If it were relevant, we’d already have seen Russia attack Poland, which it doesn’t, because it knows about the NATO response… And mutual response is the deterrent, no need for over-expensive, unproven, unreliable technological toys.

      • Andrew Tubbiolo

        Disrespect and duplicity?

        * Poland made the most aggressive transition from communism to market based economy.
        * The brave Polish people took on the Soviet empire, and in the end won. Even Polish communists successfully stopped the Soviets from doing to Poland what was done to Czechoslovakia.
        * Poland has largely met it’s promised levels of defense spending per agreements with NATO.
        * Poland has surrendered its claims to land given to Ukraine after WWII.
        * Poland has worked with Germany to come to a mutual agreement about travel to and from areas given to Poland at Germany’s expense.

        Sorry, Poland has returned to the West where she always was and belongs. She and the West have finally created a strategic structure to Europe where should she become the tripwire for war again, she won’t find herself pressed between two super-aggressor states and in a position where her fellow Westerners cannot come to her aid. Should we find ourselves in a real standoff with the Russians Poland will be the fulcrum of NATO.

    • Qba

      F-16 can do this.

  • Wrong, they need multi-role Eurofighter Typhoons than can fire Meteor missiles, not pathetic 4 hard points internal weapon bay F-35.

    • Qba

      Typhoon is too expensive, better choince will be Gripen.

    • Superfamily Allosauridae

      F-35 can fire Meteor, and that’s 6 hardpoints. Stealthier and faster than a Eurofighter could ever be with 6 Meteors.

      Sure, a Eurofighter armed only with the internal gun can fly faster at Mach 2… but that’s with only a gun. The F-35 can do Mach 1.6 with any internal load. And if you don’t need to go Mach 1.6 or be quite as stealthy, you can just load up the external pylons. You’d probably still have a much lower RCS than the Eurofighter clean.

  • Frederick Murre

    Those Su-22s in the header photo, in that paint scheme, look pretty cool!

    F-35 would obviously be the most efficacious near-term thing the Poles can outfit with, but can they afford it? It would give them even more opportunity to take part in NATO operations, and join up with some of the other European -35 operators on training and logistics.

    Just a few of them would make for a great spear-point for the rest of their F-16s, or doing SEAD.

  • P-marc Dorris

    what Poland needs is a proven multi role fighter aircraft like the f16 ( they already know that! ) the f35 would be a huge mistake ( can’t turn, can’t climb, can’t run) stay safe, f16v IS the answer.

  • Saroumane

    Expect the French to make the same offer they’ve sent to Belgium.

    • Toquey SiGauses

      To poland? I dont think so …

      With latest evenments between French and poland (and second between poland and EU), i think a little “poland? We dont care”

      Now French dont want really trade to egual with Poland.

    • PierreAyc

      Poland has repeatedly acted with absolute duplicity towards France over the last few years. France will not waste a single minute working on offering a deal to Poland…
      Furthermore, the deal offered to Belgium relies on the very extensive partnership that already exists between France and Belgium, and on the close links between Belgium’s aerospace industry and France’s industry (Sabena Technics is owned by Dassault…). There is nothing of this kind between France and Poland.

  • Andrew Tubbiolo

    I think what would make sense for the Poles would be a squadron or two of F-35Bs. B’s so they could be dispersed away from airfields and roads. Then either update their F-16’s or do a small purchase of Saab Gripen Es provided they can fully interoperate with the Lightening’s. The Gripen makes sense as a gen 4++ aircraft that can super-cruise, can dogfight with the best of them, carries modern weapons, and can operate from roads. It’s cost is affordable and maintenance needs are sane. Primary setup would see F-35B’s pop up from random locations and provide SEAD and AWACS for the Gripens and/or Falcons. I’d also suggest one more thing to assist the F-35’s in their SEAD functionality when going against Kaliningrad. Artillery. Lot’s of artillery. Collect as many old tubes and stocks of ammunition to pour into the concentrated air defence of geographically small Kaliningrad to make way for the F-35’s. WWII saturation barrages make sense in small areas like Kiliningrad and could shut down air defence emplacements for the crucial minutes needed to cover the 35’s in the opening stages of a conflict.

  • MSO

    Maybe the US will offer assistance to Poland now that Russia is castigating Trump’s aid to Ukraine.

  • Corporatski Kittenbot 2.0

    They should probably go for more F-16s, but they paid a very hefty price for their Block-52 versions….. $70m each.

  • Well if these are the competitors , here is the best choice

    1) Eurofighter Typhoon (Tranche 3)
    2) Gripen NG
    3) Adv. Super Hornet
    4) Used F-16s
    5) Stay away from the Junk-35
    But heres another thing dear Polandians
    If you dare (like NATO fools) to attack Russia….
    Then some Iskander will blast all air bases before any of these jets take off.