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U.S. Approves F-35 Fifth-Generation Fighters Jets Sale To Poland

U.S. Approves F-35 Fifth-Generation Fighters Jets Sale To Poland
U.S. Air Force F-35A Lightning II fighter aircraft, assigned to the 421st Fighter Squadron, Hill Air Force Base, Utah, taxi on the flight line at Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, June 11, 2019. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Valerie Seelye)

The U.S. State Department has approved a potential foreign military sale of 32 F-35 fifth-generation fighters to Poland, the U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA).

A press release said the DSCA has notified Congress of the proposed Foreign Military Sales (FMS), which is worth $6.5 billion and consists of 32 F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Conventional Take-Off and Landing (CTOL) Aircraft and thirty-three (33) Pratt & Whitney F-135 Engines.

Poland formally sent its request for the F-35 in May 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 $47 billion by 2026 on new equipment.

The advanced stealth fighter “will enhance the Polish Air Force’s contributions to NATO and/or other coalition operations, improve Poland’s self-defense capabilities, and contribute to Poland’s goal of modernizing its military capabilities while further enhancing interoperability with the United States, NATO members, and other allies,” the Defense Department said in a statement.

In June, a US Marine Corps F-35 fighter jet conducted a flyover during Polish President Andrzej Duda’s White House visit with President Donald Trump.

Poland has been steadily increasing its defense spending, in part due to Warsaw’s concerns about Russia following Moscow’s military incursion into Ukraine.

Along with the fighters, the proposed package includes 33 F135 engines, electronic warfare and C4 systems, access to the fighter’s Autonomic Logistics Information System, a full mission trainer, and other support capabilities.

Lockheed Martin is the prime contractor on the plane, and Pratt & Whitney is the engine manufacturer. The deal will include some form of industrial offset, to be negotiated between the companies and Warsaw at a later date.

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, has 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.

However, Poland shouldn’t get its hopes up about becoming a full-on partner with the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program, as the Pentagon has been adamant that the broad industrial participation program is locked in place.

The F-35’s engine produces 43,000 lbs. of thrust and consists of a 3-stage fan, a 6-stage compressor, an annular combustor, a single-stage high-pressure turbine, and a 2-stage low-pressure turbine.

With nine countries involved in its development (United States, United Kingdom, Italy, Netherlands, Turkey, Canada, Denmark, Norway, and Australia), the F-35 represents a new model of international cooperation, ensuring U.S. and coalition partner security well into the 21st century.

The F-35 also brings together strategic international partnerships, providing affordability by reducing redundant research and development and providing access to technology around the world. Along these lines, the F-35 will employ a variety of US and allied weapons.

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