On September 11th, the Pentagon’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency cleared the sale of 32 F-35A joint strike fighters to Poland.
The estimated cost of the deal to procure 32 of the fifth-generation fighter jets and 33 F-135 Engines is estimated to cost $6.5 billion. The proposed order covers the conventional-takeoff-and-landing F-35A variants.
“Poland has requested to buy thirty-two (32) F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Conventional Take Off and Landing (CTOL) Aircraft and thirty-three (33) Pratt & Whitney F-135 Engines. Also included are Electronic Warfare Systems; Command, Control, Communications, Computer, and Intelligence/Communications, Navigational, and Identification (C4I/CNI); Autonomic Logistics Global Support System (ALGS); Autonomic Logistics Information System (ALIS); Full Mission Trainer; Weapons Employment Capability, and other Subsystems, Features, and Capabilities; F-35 unique infrared flares; reprogramming center; F-35 Performance Based Logistics; software development/integration; aircraft ferry and tanker support; support equipment; tools and test equipment; communications equipment; spares and repair parts; personnel training and training equipment; publications and technical documents; U.S. Government and contractor engineering, logistics, and personnel services; and other related elements of logistics and program support.”
The US claimed that the sale is approved, since it would reinforce the security of a NATO ally in the face of Poland, thus reinforcing US security and also foreign interest and propagating Washington’s foreign policy.
The approval of the sale isn’t specifically surprising, since Poland publicly seeks to be a US proxy state in Europe. The sale must also be approved by the US Congress, but it’s expected to go without a hitch.
“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.
The proposed sale of this aircraft, systems and support will not alter the basic military balance in the region.”
Poland formally sent its request for the F-35 on May 28th with the goal of replacing its legacy MiG-29 and Su-22 fleets. Procuring the F-35 is part of a broader defense modernization effort from Warsaw, which will see the country spend $48 billion by 2026 on new equipment.
“I care about replacing post-Soviet gear in the Polish Air Force with the most modern one,” Polish Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak said at a defense conference in Warsaw.
Specifically, Poland has no plans to purchase any Russian missile defense systems or any other equipment from “the enemy.”
It is already set in stone that Turkey will not receive any F-35 fighter jets, and it is out of the F-35 joint strike fighter program.
Both Japan and Poland are interested in becoming part of it, but so far indications show that no such thing will happen.
Lockheed executives said Poland will get planes with the Block 4 package installed. Greg Ulmer, Lockheed’s vice president and general manager for the program, expressed an interest in having Poland take part in the industrial base for the planes.
“Once Polish companies are approved as our supplier partners, they could make parts not only for the Polish aircraft but also for those supplied to other countries, such as the U.S. or Japan,” Ulmer said.
Japan in May 2019, ordered 105 more F-35B fighter jets, the vertical take-off and landing variants.
In a June 18th letter from Japan’s Ministry of Defense to Pentagon acquisition head Ellen Lord, obtained by Defense News, Atsuo Suzuki, director general for the Bureau of Defense Buildup Planning, Japan requested to become a full-fledged partner in the development program and not simply a customer.
“I believe becoming a partner country in F-35 program is an option,” the letter reads. “I would like to have your thoughts on whether or not Japan has a possibility to be a partner country in the first place. Also, I would like you to provide the Ministry of Defense with detailed information about the responsibilities and rights of a partner country, as well as cost sharing and conditions such as the approval process and the required period.”
“We would like to make a final decision whether we could proceed to become a partner country by thoroughly examining the rights and obligations associated with becoming a partner country based on the terms and conditions you would provide,” the letter concludes.
But Japan was denied, Brandi Schiff, a spokesperson for the F-35 Joint Program Office said that the Partnership closed on July 15th, 2002 and no other partners would be introduced.
It is yet to be seen if Poland would also get rejected, since Lockheed Martin is expressing interest in the cheaper labor that Poland likely offers, especially compared to Japan.
It is also an addition incentive that Poland carries out any requests by the US to the note, while Japan constantly gets into “arguments” with South Korea, despite both being Washington’s allies. After all, it is much better if your allies (whom you likely view as your inferiors) easily step in line.
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