WARSAW, Poland — The Polish Ministry of Defence is considering the purchase of new F-35 Lightning II fighters or a newer version of the F-16 jets to upgrade the country's Air Force, according to Polish Deputy Defence Minister Bartosz Kownacki.
Kownacki told members of the Polish parliamentary defense committee that an earlier plan to acquire used F-16A/B aircraft from an ally was scrapped because of the substantial costs that would be related to upgrading the fighter jets.
"We must think of our further steps because, in addition to our F-16 aircraft, we have Su-22 and MiG-29 aircraft that will be phased out. We must think of our next steps, what should be done in this field in a few years," Kownacki told lawmakers on March 22. "I can say that, regarding the F-16 and F-35 aircraft, there is an ongoing discussion on which one to select."
The designed procurement is related to the ministry's plan to replace Poland's Soviet-designed aircraft, such as the country's Sukhoi Su-22 and Mikoyan MiG-29 fighter jets, with new aircraft made by a NATO member state. The Polish Air Force operates a fleet of 48 F-16C/D Block 52+ fighters.
This year, the Polish government plans to allocate about 37.7 billion zloty (U.S. $9.5 billion) to the country's military spending. Of this allocation, 10.2 billion zloty is to go toward capital spending, according to figures from the ministry.