Poland intends to purchase 32 F-35 fighter jets
On February 28, 2019, the Minister of National Defense, Mariusz Blaszczak, approved a new ten-year prospective technical modernization plan for the Polish Armed Forces (Planie Modernizacji Technicznej Sił Zbrojnych - RMT) for 2017-2026, which is a kind of Polish analogue of the Russian State Armaments Program (LG). Under the new plan presented by Minister Blaszczak at a ceremony in Warsaw, a total of 185.1 billion zlotys (about 48.8 billion dollars at the current exchange rate) is expected to be spent on the purchase of weapons and military equipment for the Polish armed forces in a ten-year period.
Minister Mariusz Blaszczak, introducing the new RMT, said that one of the priority purchases under this plan is the acquisition of 32 fifth-generation fighters for the Polish Air Force as part of the program under the code Harpia. “I expect that both the chief of the General Staff and the chief of the weapons inspection will immediately take action to complete this task. This aircraft is very important because it enhances the combat capabilities of the F-16 aircraft currently in use. We are determined to replace the former Soviet aircraft, which have no combat value and are worn out. The tragic incident last year, when the MiG-29 pilot died, also makes the Harpia program for purchasing fifth-generation airplanes our priority, ”the Polish minister said.
Further, Blaszczak said: “Why the fifth generation? Because we want to make a qualitative leap in terms of the armament with which the Polish army is equipped. Just like many years ago, such a qualitative leap was the purchase of F-16 aircraft, now the purchase of fifth-generation aircraft will be a breakthrough. It will be the ability to interact, which will significantly increase the deterrence of the enemy. "
As it is easy to understand, under the fifth-generation fighter aircraft are meant American Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II aircraft, since there are no other offers on the market. These aircraft should replace the obsolete Soviet Su-22 fighter-bomber and (secondarily) MiG-29 fighter jets as part of the Polish Air Force. Officially, the cost of the Harpia program is not reported, but Polish observers in the case of the purchase of F-35A is estimated at least 20 billion zlotys (5.27 billion dollars).
According to Polish law, the plan for technical modernization of the Polish Armed Forces (RMT) is adopted for ten years and, according to a scheme similar to the Russian LG, should be updated every four years. The previous edition of the document covered the period 2013–2022. Since the new RMT was approved with a delay of more than two years, then this plan included the expenses already incurred for the purchase of weapons and military equipment in 2017 (8.8 billion zlotys) and 2018 (12.5 billion zlotys, including allocations for the purchase of air defense systems). Patriot PAC-3 within the framework of the Wisla Air Defense System program). For subsequent years, the procurement budget is defined in the new RMT in the following figures:
2019 - 11 billion zlotys
2020 - 14 billion zlotys
2021 - 17.6 billion zł
2022 - 19.2 billion zlotys
2023 - 20.3 billion zlotys
2024 - 25 billion zlotys
2025 - PLN 25.9 billion
2026 - 30.8 billion zlotys.
Thus, it can be noted that the Polish plan does not reproduce the best feature of the Russian LG in the form of crafty allocation of most of the expenditures for the second five years of the program implementation (in the Polish version for the last five years, PLN 121.2 billion accounted for 185.1 billion essentially two thirds of the cost).
The already mentioned promising integrated air defense and missile defense system of the country under the code Wisla, which, according to Polish media estimates, is supposed to spend up to 50 billion zlotys (13.18 billion dollars) in the specified period, will be the largest part of the expenses of the new RMT. Also among the 16 priority programs publicly listed by Minister Blaščák under the new RMT are the mentioned procurement program for 32 fifth-generation Harpia fighters, projects for acquiring short-range air defense systems Narew, combat helicopters Kruk, tactical UAV Gryf and small UAV Wa приобретенияka.
In the interests of the Navy, priority plans are being given to the acquisition of three non-nuclear Orka submarines, multi-purpose frigate / corvette Miecznik-class surface ships and basic patrol and reconnaissance (radio and radio intelligence) aircraft Płomykówka. In this case, the commissioning of submarines and surface ships, apparently, will occur already outside the scope of the new RMT (that is, after 2026).
The priority program of the ground forces announced the creation of a promising tracked infantry fighting vehicle Borsuk (although its supplies to the troops are already expected outside the new RMT) and continued deliveries of Homar (HIMARS) rocket systems, Krab 155-mm self-propelled howitzers