The Polish Defence Ministry has signed the formal letter of offer and acceptance with the US Air Force (USAF) to purchase 32 Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II fighter jets.

Defence Minister Mariusz Blaszczak told media sources that the acquisition will enable the country’s military to make a technological leap.

The signing of the deal to purchase the F-35 fighter jets for $4.6bn was confirmed by Blaszczak last month.

Poland is the ninth member of the European F-35 User’s Group, and the first in Eastern Europe to shift to the F-35.

The other participating nations are the US, Belgium, Denmark, Israel, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway and the UK.

US Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa commander Jeff Harrigian said: “Poland’s decision to acquire the F-35 demonstrates confidence in the aircraft, but more importantly, the strength of our relationship.

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“I look forward to the day the first F-35 arrives in Poland, and we pledge our support to help integrate this fifth-generation fighter capability into the Polish Air Force.”

The US military’s newest fighter aircraft, the F-35 has provided better levels of lethality, survivability and situational awareness to pilots and allowed troops to engage in hostile environments.

The fifth-generation, multi-role aircraft has been designed to integrate with fourth-generation aircraft and complement the technology that already exists.

USAFE-AFAFRICA chief of 5th Generation Integration John Echols said: “Information is a critical commodity and the F-35’s ability to collect data, then connect and rapidly share that information with allied surface, maritime, space and cyber forces is a game-changer for 21st-century coalition warfare.”

At present, the Polish Air Force operates a fleet of F-16 Fighting Falcons and legacy Mig-29s and Su-22s.

The F-35 will replace the legacy aircraft, giving the airforce interoperability with Nato allies.