WARSAW, Poland — Polish Defence Minister Mariusz Blaszczak announced Thursday he signed a military modernization plan document under which the country will spend 185 billion zloty (U.S. $49 billion) on new weapons and military equipment by 2026.

The acquisition of 32 fifth-generation fighter jets is one of the priority procurements that are to be carried out under the program, the minister said.

“I expect both the chief of the General Staff, and the chief of the Armament Inspectorate to immediately initiate actions to perform this task,” Blaszczak said in a Feb. 28 ministerial statement.

The acquisition aims to help Poland replace its outdated Soviet-era Sukhoi Su-22 and Mikoyan MiG-29 aircraft.

Other acquisitions to be financed by the multiyear program include short-range air defense systems, combat helicopters, cybersecurity systems and new submarines for the Polish Navy, according to Blaszczak.

For 2019, the Defence Ministry has a budget of close to 44.7 billion zloty, an increase of 9 percent compared with a year earlier.

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Prioritize NATO’s core task: collective defense
The risk of conflict by miscalculation or by escalation of an incident is greater today than at any time since the end of the Cold War. NATO’s deterrent posture needs to be strengthened in both the Baltic and Black Sea area to reduce this risk.