Poland poised for F-35 buy? Minister calls 5th-gen fighter program a ‘priority’ for govt

Poland poised for F-35 buy? Minister calls 5th-gen fighter program a ‘priority’ for govt Poland’s defense minister has labeled the purchase of fifth-generation fighter jets a “priority task” for the government, leaving local media to speculate that an expensive acquisition of Lockheed Martin’s F-35 could be imminent.

Speaking during a press conference on Poland’s military modernization plan on Thursday, Mariusz Blaszczak said he expected “immediate action” from top military officials to buy 32 fifth-generation multi-role fighter aircraft. He added that the Harpia program would boost the capabilities of its F-16 fleet while removing the need for older Soviet-era warplanes by 2026.

Blaszczak didn’t mention the F-35 by name, though out of the several Western firms to have already put their hat in the ring for the competition, only the F-35 meets Warsaw’s requirement of a fifth-generation jet.

France, Germany, and Spain are also their own fifth- (or even sixth-) generation jet, but with at least a decade before it becomes operational, it is already out of the running. The same applies to the UK’s Tempest fighter, which won’t enter service until 2035. This leaves just the F-35 as the only fifth-gen fighter that meets NATO interoperability requirements currently on the shelves.

However, Warsaw’s desire to buy the latest model fighter over fourth-generation alternatives on offer will come at a cost. The 32 F-35s would cost the Polish taxpayer approximately US$2.5 billion.

In addition to its high price tag, the F-35 has had a troubled development with several design flaws stemming from the trillion-dollar program’s ambition to be an aircraft for several branches of the US military. Along with its experimental design, the jet has had issues with its weapons bay, a deadly ejector seat, refueling tubes, software, and pilot helmets.

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