Polish Defence Minister Mariusz Blaszczak today confirmed that on Friday that Poland would sign a deal to purchase 32 Lockheed Martin F-35 fighter jets in a contract worth $4.6bn.
Blaszczak announced the purchase via Twitter, saying it would take place in Dęblin, Eastern Poland, at 3 pm local time.
Blaszczak tweeted: “This Friday, in Dęblin at 15:00 I will sign a contract worth $4.6bnfor the purchase of 32 state-of-the-art fifth-generation F-35 fighters”
The contract follows the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) agreeing to the sale of the aircraft to Poland last summer. In September 2019, it was announced that Poland intended to buy 32 F-35A variant aircraft.
Last summer when the DSCA approved the sale of the aircraft to Poland, it was estimated the purchase would cost around $6.5bn. However, Poland has driven this figure down during negotiations to the $4.6bn price tag tweeted by the Minister.
Poland expects to begin taking delivery of the Fighter Jets starting in 2024.
The aircraft will bolster the Polish Air Force, which currently operates a fleet of F-16 aircraft and legacy Mig-29s and Su-22s. The legacy aircraft from the former Soviet Union are set to be replaced by the F-35, giving the Polish Air Force greater interoperability with NATO allies.
When it agreed on the purchase the DSCA said: “This proposed sale of F-35s will provide Poland with a credible defence capability to deter aggression in the region and ensure interoperability with US forces.
“The proposed sale will augment Poland’s operational aircraft inventory and enhance its air-to-air and air-to-ground self-defence capability. The Polish Air Force’s legacy MiG-29 and Su-22 fleet will be replaced with F-35s. Poland will have no difficulty absorbing these aircraft into its armed forces.”
Poland will be the first country in Eastern Europe to adopt the fighter jet. However, several European partners are signed onto the programme including the UK, Belgium, Denmark, Italy, the Netherlands, and Norway.