Poland is carrying out the largest rearmament process in its history, with an eye toward Russia's threats against that country.
Polish rearmament and its fighters: from the FA-50 to the F-35A
This rearmament process includes a renewal of the Polish Air Force fighter fleet. To date, its combat aviation was based on three models: the F-16 Fighting Falcon (48 units in total: 36 single-seat F-16C and 12 two-seat F-16D), the MiG -29 Fulcrum (28 in total: 22 single-seaters and 6 two-seaters, although part of them have been transferred to Ukraine) and the Sukhoi Su-22 (18 units).
The MiG-29 and Su-22 are being replaced in Poland. To cover its capabilities, Poland has purchased 48 KAI FA-50 Golden Eagle light fighters, which will serve to replace the MiG-29. The first two units arrived in Poland in July.
Furthermore, in 2020 Poland formalized the acquisition of 32 fifth-generation F-35A Lightning II stealth fighters. The first deliveries are planned for 2024. According to Lockheed Martin, Polish F-35A will be located at Łask Air Base, one of the two bases where Polish F-16s currently operate, indicating that the fifth-generation fighter would serve replace the already veteran Fighting Falcons.
Poland will dedicate more than 4% of its GDP to defense in 2024
To date, Poland has not indicated its intention to buy other fighters, but it does have offers. Specifically, and as happens in other areas of the market, the American and European aeronautical industry are competing to sell their fighters to Poland, taking advantage of the increase in defense spending in that country. This same week, at the opening of the 31st International Defense Industry Exhibition in Kielce, the Polish president Andrzej Duda announced that by 2024 Poland will invest more than 4% of its GDP in defense. In this way, Poland would surpass Greece as the European Union country that devotes the highest percentage of its GDP to military spending.
Boeing and Leonardo compete to sell their fighters to Poland
Precisely, at the aforementioned Kielce Defense Exhibition several companies that have fighters on the market meet: the Americans Boeing and Lockheed Martin, the Swedish Saab and the Italian Leonardo, which is part of the Eurofighter consortium. In 2017, several of these companies competed for the Polish Harpia program that concluded with the choice of the F-35A: Saab offered its Gripen NG, Lockheed Martin simultaneously offered the F-35 and the F/A- 18E/F Super Hornet, and Leonardo offered the Eurofighter Typhoon. This time the two main competitors are the Boeing F-15EX Eagle II and the Eurofighter Typhoon.
Boeing offers Poland the F-15EX Eagle II
This Thursday, Boeing launched its offer: "F-15EX is ready to land in Poland With unparalleled speed, range and payload, the F-15EX would enhance the national security needs of Poland and the NATO Alliance.". Tim Flood, Senior Director of Global Business Development for Europe and America, noted: "Poland’s interest in the F-15EX confirms its dedication to the preparedness and effectiveness of its military forces", adding: "The F-15EX offers superior interoperability, supportability and affordability along with a robust industry plan that would support Poland’s goal of developing independent defense capabilities."
As incentives, Boeing points out that it "has been present in Poland for more than 30 years", with headquarters in Warsaw, Gdańsk and Rzeszow, which employ more than 1,000 people. Currently, the only aircraft of this brand used by the Polish Air Force is the Boeing 737-800/BBJ2. Poland has purchased two units as VIP transports.
Leonardo displays a miniature Eurofighter Typhoon with Polish insignia
This Wednesday, Leonardo made a great presentation at his booth at the Kielce exhibition with the participation of the Undersecretary of State for Defense of Italy, Matteo Perego di Cremnago, the National Director of Armaments of Italy, General Portolano, and the ambassadors of Spain, Italy and the United Kingdom, three of the four countries of the Eurofighter consortium (four is Germany). The presentation featured a model of the Eurofighter decorated with the checkered insignia of the Polish Air Force, in a clear nod to Poland.
A few years ago, Leonardo sold Poland 16 M-346 Master aircraft, known as "Bielik" in the Polish Air Force. It is an excellent advanced jet training aircraft with state-of-the-art modular avionics, which serves to prepare future F-35 pilots, for example. Furthermore, the Italian company has a considerable political advantage: the current governments of Poland and Italy belong to the same European parliamentary group, the ECR, and have shown great harmony each other, especially as it relates to support for Ukraine against the Russian invasion.
The Eurofighter consortium uses Spanish planes as an example
This Thursday, the European consortium, through its Twitter account Eurofighter Poland, put the fighters Spaniards deployed in Ämari, Estonia, as an example, linking a news article published yesterday by the Polish newspaper Rzeczpospolita : "Eurofighter is a reliable platform designed for air superiority", said the account.
The Rzeczpospolita news talks about the Amber Detachment of the Spanish Air Force, made up of 140 soldiers, eight Eurofighter Typhoon fighters from the 11th Wing and an A400M Atlas tanker plane from the 31st Wing. Curiously, the presence of Spanish aircraft in that Baltic Republic is used as an example to promote this model in Poland. We will see if in the end the Polish government opts for one of these two models or decides that it has enough with its current acquisitions.
Main photo: Ejército del Aire.
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