WARSAW (Reuters) – Poland plans to buy 32 Lockheed Martin F-35A fighters to replace Soviet-era jets, Defence Minister Mariusz Blaszczak said on Tuesday, amid the growing assertiveness of neighbour Russia.
“Today we sent a request for quotation (LOR) to our American partners regarding the purchase of 32 F-35A aircraft along with a logistics and training package,” Blaszczak tweeted.
The United States is expected to expand sales of F-35 fighters to five nations including Poland as European allies bulk up their defences in the face of a strengthening Russia, the Pentagon said last month.
Poland is among NATO member countries that spend at least 2% of GDP on defence. Warsaw agreed in 2017 to raise defence spending gradually from 2% to 2.5% of GDP, meaning annual spending should nearly double to about 80 billion zlotys (16.5 billion pounds) by 2032.
U.S. arms sales to foreign governments rose 13 percent to $192.3 billion in the year ended Sept. 30, the U.S. State Department said in November. F-35A fighters are estimated to cost $85 million each.
During a televised statement on Tuesday, Blaszczak also said Poland was making progress in convincing the United States to increase its military presence on Polish soil.
(Reporting by Marcin Goclowski; Editing by Mark Potter)