Poland To Buy Advanced F-35 Fighter Jets From The US

The F-35 Lightning II Demo Team fly past the Empire State Building in New York, U.S., August 22, 2019.
(Photo: REUTERS/Lucas Jackson)

The U.S. State Department on Wednesday announced it had given the green light to sell three dozens state of the art F-35 combat aircraft to an American ally, Poland. The sale is expected to meet little resistance from Capitol Hill.

A member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Poland is among European countries eyed by the Pentagon in April this year as a client for the advanced Lockheed Martin-made fighter jets. The proposed sale is in response to Russia's air force's $50 billion upgrades.

The $6.5 billion sale includes 32 of the F-35-A fighter conventional type, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) revealed late Wednesday. Poland has been interested in acquiring the stealth-capable aircraft since early this year, which would replace the country's aging MiG-29 and SU-22 jets it purchased during the Cold War era.

The sale is expected to strengthen Poland's role with NATO and minimize the state's reliance on Russian-made military hardware, the US state department disclosed in a statement. Poland, which shares boundaries with Germany (also a NATO partner) and Russia, belonged to the Soviet-era military alliance known as Warsaw Pact.

The US defense department's approval of the F-35 sale comes days following U.S. Vice President Mike Pence's state visit to Poland to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the start of the Second World War.

NATO also referred to as the North Atlantic Alliance, is an inter-continental military association between 29 European and North American nations. The alliance was established on April 4, 1949.

Lockheed Martin's stocks were up 0.2 percent to 381.54 on Wall Street in pre-market sessions Wednesday, continuing to remain above its 50- and 200-day trajectories and just under all-time peaks. Leading F-35 sub-contractor Northrop Grumman inched up 1.2 percent, and F-35 engine designer and manufacturer United Technologies gained 1.6 percent.

Under US President Donald Trump, the country has undertaken a massive "Buy American" campaign that eased limitations on foreign military sales and urged Congress to take more active participation in ramping up deals abroad for America's weapons industry.

Poland's F-35 purchase comes less than a month after Washington delisted another NATO member - Turkey - out of the contract after the country bought Russian-made S-400 interceptor missiles, which the Pentagon views as a threat to the F-35's stealth capabilities.

Lockheed Martin disclosed earlier that orders of its high-tech F-35 combat planes could follow the path of its aging fleet of 4,600 F-16 Falcons, over 41 percent bigger than previously projected. Overseas military orders would comprise a large chunk of new sales and countries like Slovakia, Romania, and Spain are among interested new clients.

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