Lockheed Martin F-35. 2021.

Kraków 2021-09-20

Lockheed Martin F-35 A for Poland.

Lockheed Martin F-35 A. 2021 year. Photo by Karol Placha Hetman
Lockheed Martin F-35 A. 2021 year. Photo by Karol Placha Hetman

Lockheed Martin F-35 A. 2021 year. Photo by Karol Placha Hetman
Lockheed Martin F-35 A. 2021 year. Photo by Karol Placha Hetman

Lockheed Martin F-35 A. 2021 year. Photo by Karol Placha Hetman
Lockheed Martin F-35 A. 2021 year. Photo by Karol Placha Hetman

Lockheed Martin F-35 A. 2021 year. Photo by Karol Placha Hetman
Lockheed Martin F-35 A. 2021 year. Photo by Karol Placha Hetman

Lockheed Martin F-35 A. 2021 year. Photo by Karol Placha Hetman
Lockheed Martin F-35 A. 2021 year. Photo by Karol Placha Hetman

Lockheed Martin F-35 A. 2021 year. Photo by Karol Placha Hetman
Lockheed Martin F-35 A. 2021 year. Photo by Karol Placha Hetman

Lockheed Martin F-35 A. 2021 year. Photo by Karol Placha Hetman
Lockheed Martin F-35 A. 2021 year. Photo by Karol Placha Hetman

The desire to buy Lockheed Martin F-35 aircraft is not a whim of the current Polish Government (United Right). It is a consequence of decisions made in 2002, when it was decided to purchase 48 Lockheed Martin F-16 aircraft, and one of the conditions was the existence of its successor program. In 2003, it was said that within 2-3 years, more (not necessarily new) F-16 planes would be purchased to replace the Sukhoi Su-22, and even the Mikoyan and Guriewicz MiG-29 planes. However, this did not happen.

In 2015, consideration was given to purchasing 64 Lockheed Martin F-35 A aircraft for four squadrons. However, the purchase price was unattainable for Poland, because the country's economic situation was bad. There was an offer to buy two planes a year. In the following years, it was planned to increase this number, so that in 2030 it would have a complete set of planes. At that time, the F-35 A was costing about $ 95 million. With the logistics package and spare parts, it costs about 150 million for one plane.

Within four years, the economic situation of Poland has improved significantly. This allowed for the realistic start of talks on the purchase of these aircraft. In addition, in February 2019, another Mikoyan and Guriewicz MiG-29 plane crash took place. Fortunately, no casualties.

On February 28, 2019, the Minister of National Defense, Mr. Mariusz Błaszczak, signed the technical modernization plan for the Polish Army until 2026. In it, he announced the spending of PLN 185 billion for the modernization of the army. He revealed that we would buy fifth generation fighter planes under the "Harpy" program. Only the American F-35 was involved. The plan to purchase 32 Lockheed Martin F-35 A aircraft has been disclosed. Poland was not interested in the F-35 B and F-35 C versions, as they are specialized versions for maritime aviation and marines.

The very good relations of the Polish Government and the Polish President with the US Administration allowed for the possible acquisition of aircraft by the end of 2024. Poland is not one of the countries that have invested in the JSF program and will acquire planes under the FMS (Foreign Military Sales) procedure. In May 2019, Poland sent an application for the purchase of F-35 A Lightning II fighters.

On September 11, 2019, the US Department of State approved the sale of 32 aircraft of this type for our country (in a transaction the cost of which may reach a maximum of USD 6.5 billion, i.e. approximately PLN 25.8 billion). The information was provided by the Pentagon's Defense Cooperation Security Agency (DSCA).

On September 26, 2019, the US Congress approved the decision to sell 32 F-35 A aircraft to Poland. The information was provided by Minister of National Defense Mariusz Błaszczak, on the Twitter social network and during a press conference.

Now, specific Polish-American negotiations on the method of obtaining, financing, etc. have begun. The preliminary delivery schedule informed that Poland could receive the first four F-35 A in 2024, and the planes for the entire first squadron (16 copies) would be handed over to 2026.

If the transaction is finalized, its implementation will be supervised by representatives of the US Ministry of Defense under the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program. In the past, Poland acquired under this program, inter alia, the Patriot air defense system.

In September 2019, the catalog price of one F-35 fighter was currently (without armaments and technical assistance) around $ 89.2 million. At the same time, experts from the USA point out that this is currently (2019) the maximum price. The value of the transaction is estimated at USD 6.5 billion.

In the Polish Army, Lockheed Martin F-35 A planes will completely replace MiG-29 and Su-22 planes and will support Lockheed Martin F-16 C / D Jastrząb planes.

On January 28, 2020, the U.S. Embassy in Poland announced that Poland would buy 32 F-35 A Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter planes for USD 4.6 billion.

When it comes to the price, it is worth noting that it is different for different countries. The price includes not only the plane itself, but also armaments, technical maintenance equipment, simulators, training, warranty coverage and many other factors. Comparing the dry numbers does not get to the bottom of the matter. For example: the Belgians wanted 34 planes. The US State Department initially announced the contract value of USD 6.53 billion, and after negotiations it was already USD 4 billion. But we do not know what weapons or training packages they bought.

The contract for the F-35 A aircraft has been signed.

On January 31, 2020, the Minister of National Defense, Mariusz Błaszczak, signed a contract for the purchase of 32 fifth generation Lockheed Martin F-35 A Lightning II aircraft. The ceremony, which took place at the 41st Air Training Base in Dęblin, was attended by, among others, President Andrzej Duda, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki and the US Ambassador to Poland Georgette Mosbacher. The contract worth USD 4.6 billion (approximately PLN 17.8 billion) also includes mission simulators, a backup engine, pilot and service training, and operation support.

It was stated that the contract is without an offset. This means, however, that there will be no need to conclude additional agreements that may not necessarily bring profits to the Polish side. For example, acquiring technologies that cannot be used. An obvious mistake of Poland was not joining the Joint Strike Fighter program in 2003. Poland decided to purchase without offset, considering that the industrial benefits declared by Lockheed Martin (selected capabilities for servicing the F-16 and C-130 Hercules aircraft) would not offset the offset costs, which were to amount to over USD 1 billion.

The Polish F-35 A will be practically the same as used in the USAF. It will be necessary to modify the infrastructure of the airports on which these planes will be based. This was, of course, to be expected.

The purchase of Lockheed Martin F-35 A aircraft is a very good decision. In 2003, we signed a contract to buy 48 Lockheed Martin F-16 C / D planes, and it turned out to be a very good decision. The purchase of the F-35 is a continuation of standing in line with the most powerful country in the world. Opponents will always be and will find hundreds of reasons to undermine the decisions made. These are people who do not wish Catholic Poland happiness and safe borders.

Poland will receive the first F-35 A aircraft in 2024, and the last one in 2030. The first plane will arrive in Poland in 2026, with trained Polish pilots and technicians. The first full squadron (16 aircraft) will start flights in Poland in 2026. The Americans take into account the possible start of training in the US with the use of their aircraft, which will speed up the process. The contract provides that 24 pilots and 90 ground staff will be trained in the USA, including instructor level. More soldiers will be trained in the country.

What is the F-35 A like?

The F-35 A is a fifth generation combat aircraft. Years of development of the program, numerous adjustments made during the research and development period work in its favor. Besides, the plane was already used in combat.

The aircraft's opponents indicate that it is the only aircraft without a HUD. But the plane was equipped with a helmet-mounted display. This means that the pilot, looking at his feet, sees what is under the plane, not its floor. Therefore, it is the first combat aircraft in which visibility from the cabin is a marginal issue. The glazing of the cabin is one window that has been reinforced with an arch.

The F-35 A plane can use unprepared field landing sites in the field, which was already taken into account in the 90s of the 20th century.

The F-35 A is equipped with a fixed 25 mm cannon, larger than the previously used by the USAF, 20 mm Vulcan class cannons. The firearm is a 25 mm GAU-12 / U cannon mounted inside the F-35 A hull, with a reserve of 180 rounds.

The rocket armament of the F-35 A aircraft consists of up to 6 AIM-120 AMRAAM, AIM-9X Sidewinder or AIM-132 ASRAAM missiles in internal ammunition chambers or two air-to-air missiles and two bombs weighing 910 kg each. The armament can be powered and soaring bombs. At the cost of losing stealth, you can hang the weapon on the four hooks under the wings and at the ends of the wings (for AIM-9 missiles). The load capacity of the weapon increases to 8,165 kg.

In general, the F-35 aircraft does not have a braking parachute, but Norway has it installed in its planes to facilitate landing on icy RWYs.

Also, the basic version of the F-35 A does not have an in-flight fuel sampling probe, but Canada has such probes in its planes. Generally, the aircraft draws fuel through a connector located on the top of the aircraft fuselage.

The F-35 aircraft is a machine that serves as a kind of command center. The plane is distinguished by interoperability, and therefore also compatible with the Patriot system, which we bought in 2018. Cooperating with F-16 aircraft, which we have had for over a dozen years.

The F-35 aircraft is produced in four locations: tail section at BAE Systems' Samlesbury, Lancashire (England), central airframe at Lockheed Martin Marietta (Georgia), manufacturer of the front center section with air intakes is Northrop Grumman in Palmdale (California) , and Lockheed Martin in Fort Worth, Texas, produces the cockpit and wings section and is responsible for final assembly.

F-35 for Italy.

For a moment, we will stop at Italy, which is a user of the F-35 A and F-35 B aircraft, because we were able to carefully inspect the Italian F-35 A aircraft.

Italy is a secondary partner of the program with a significant financial contribution. Italy planned to buy 131 planes, but the need to reduce the budget deficit forced the reduction of this number to 90 planes in 2012. In 2012, the first order for 3 aircraft was placed. Aeronautica Militare has acquired 60 F-35 A and 15 F-35 B aircraft to replace the Panavia Tornado. In 2015, the first F-35 A assembled in Italy was flown. Marina Militare received 15 F-35 B aircraft to operate from the Cavour aircraft carrier to replace the AV-8B + Harrier II aircraft.

Written by Karol Placha Hetman