WARSAW, Poland — Polish Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak announced May 28 that his ministry “sent a letter of request today” to the United States regarding Poland’s plan to acquire 32 F-35A fighter jets.

“I care about replacing post-Soviet gear in the Polish Air Force with the most modern one,” Blaszczak said at a defense conference in Warsaw, as reported by local news site Defence24.pl.

The ministry aims to replace the Air Force’s outdated Soviet-designed Sukhoi Su-22 and Mikoyan MiG-29 jets with fifth-generation fighters. The acquisition is to be carried out as part of Poland’s military modernization program under which Warsaw plans to spend some 185 billion zloty ($48 billion) on new weapons and equipment by 2026.

Last April, Blaszczak said that the deal to purchase F-35s was “not far away” from being signed, as the Polish cabinet was holding the talks in parallel to its negotiations with Washington on the permanent deployment of U.S. troops to Poland. Warsaw has pitched for the United States to build a military base in the country, offering to allocate at least $2 billion toward the project, dubbed “Fort Trump.”

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