Everything you need to know about the F-35 deal just signed in Poland.
On Jan. 31, 2020, Poland signed the deal for the purchase of the F-35 Lightning II aircraft at the Dęblin Air Force Academy.
The agreement finalizes the Harpia procurement program aimed at acquisition of 5th generation fighter aircraft for the Polish Air Force. The deal, however, does involve some controversy, as Poland resigned from making the Harpia acquisition a competitive procurement procedure, as it did happen in case of the counterpart procurement processes, such as the one conducted in Finland or Switzerland. This sparked a lot of debate with analysts unanimously saying that this approach may have driven the price up.
During the event in Dęblin, Polish President Duda emphasized the role Poland played getting involved in the NATO operations (Baltic Air Policing) suggesting that this involvement has contributed to the Polish F-35 deal. He referred to the F-35 as the “aircraft that transfers the Air Force that uses it to a whole new era“. Duda thanked the PM and the head of the MoD and the US Ambassador to Poland for their support in concluding the deal. Duda also said that the F-35 relevantly reinforces the Polish national security, along with Patriot and HIMARS acquisitions, adding that the F-35 deal is a proof of a good relationship that the US has with Warsaw.
Polish PM, Mateusz Morawiecki, said that Poland is trying to get rid of its Soviet and Russian ties – saying that after 1993, when the Russian troops left Poland Warsaw has been making efforts to get rid of the post-Soviet equipment such as MiGs and Sukhois. Morawiecki noted that modernization of the Air Force would be accelerated by the F-35, thus ennding the Russian hardware domination in tyhe Polish mmilitary. Morawiecki referred to the F-35 as a milestone, marking a new era placing Poland at the forefront of NATO.
Mariusz Błaszczak, head of the Polish MoD, also emphasized the interoperability that the F-35 exhibits with regards to IBCS/Patriot system and F-16s. Błaszczak said that the government and the President remain obligated to make Poland safe. He thanked Duda and Morawiecki for the diplomatic and budgetary arrangements made with regards to the modernization efforts. Błaszczak also pointed to other Polish acquisitions – helicopter or Patriot system procurements. He said that acquisition of the F-35 has been made with the Polish pilots and national security in mind.
Georgette Mosbacher, referring to the deal, noted that the F-35 is the only 5th generation MRCA in existence today, also appreciating the Polish authorities’ vision of national security. She also referred to US military presence in Poland and the cooperation between Poland and the US.
The F-35 agreement has been signed by the head of the Polish MoD, Mariusz Błaszczak and then received by the US Ambassador to Poland, Georgette Mosbacher, on behalf of the US.
The delivery of the first Polish F-35 is expected to happen in 4 years. This is a milestone that finalizes the Harpia program aimed at acquisition of the new generation fighter aircraft for the Air Force.
Deal in numbers is as follows:
- Delivery of the first examples to Poland (6) is planned to happen between 2024 and 2025. 32 examples would be delivered by 2030. The first six aircraft would be staying in the US for the sake of training for the Polish Air Force. This most probably refers to the Luke AFB. Poland will get a single spare engine.
- Poland is acquiring the F-35 in the Block 4 variant, and the agreement also includes a modernization package that would involve subsequent upgrades introduced by Lockheed Martin.
- Polish F-35 aircraft will be fitted with a drogue chute, similar to the one used by the Norwegians.
- Extras that come with the Polish aircraft include ground support equipment, integrated training centre and 8 Full Mission Simulators, logistics support within the GSS system (until 2030) and training of 24 pilots (up to the instructur level), along with 90 members of the ground crew.
- Pricetag of the Polish F-35 deal is defined as 4.6B US dollars with unit price of 87.3M dollars (net), engine included – according to the Armament Inspectorate of the Polish MoD.
- The agreement also includes a modernization package that envisages that upgrades introduced later on would be implemented on the aircraft delivered before those upgrades.