WARSAW, Poland — Polish Defence Minister Mariusz Blaszczak said Jan. 22 that next week Poland “will finalize the deal on the purchase of F-35” Lightning II fighter jets.

The negotiations to buy 32 aircraft from the U.S. “are almost complete” and “the first units will be ready [for delivery] in 2024,” Blaszczak told local broadcaster Polish Radio.

In what could be the largest defense contract to be signed in Central-Eastern Europe this year, Poland is set to become the first user of Lockheed Martin’s fifth-generation fighter jets in the region, adding the aircraft to its fleet of 48 F-16s.

The defense minister did not disclose the final value of the procurement. Last September, Following the State Department’s approval of the potential sale for an estimated $6.5 billion, Blaszczak said his ministry hoped to obtain a preferential price tag for the aircraft, similarly to Warsaw’s acquisition of Patriot missiles from Raytheon.

To reduce the fighters’ price tag, the defence ministry has reportedly decided not to sign an offset agreement with the U.S. side. Sources close to the deal told daily Dziennik Gazeta Prawna that the final contract could be worth about $4 billion, including logistics and training.

Jaroslaw Adamowski is the Poland correspondent for Defense News.

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