WARSAW, Poland — Polish Defence Minister Mariusz Blaszczak said April 29 that the Polish government aimed to sign a deal to station U.S. troops in Poland this year, and a contract to purchase F-35 fighter jets was “not far away” from being signed.

Blaszczak’s announcement in an interview with local broadcaster TVP indicates that Warsaw could aim to negotiate on the potential troop deployment in parallel with the aircraft acquisition. Poland has pitched for the United States to build a permanent military base in the country, offering to pay at least $2 billion toward the project, dubbed “Fort Trump.”

On April 25, during her visit to Warsaw, Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson said that a U.S. Air Force team was to be sent to Poland in May to demonstrate the capabilities of the F-35 to Polish defence ministry officials, as reported by local news agency PAP.

Last February, Blaszczak said the planned acquisition of 32 fifth-generation aircraft would be carried out as part of the country’s military modernization program. Under the initiative, Warsaw aims to spend 185 billion zloty ($48.5 billion) on new weapons and equipment by 2026.

The envisioned procurement is part of Poland’s efforts to to replace its outdated Soviet-designed Sukhoi Su-22 and Mikoyan MiG-29 fighter jets.

Jaroslaw Adamowski is the Poland correspondent for Defense News.

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