Air Force

Procurement of Weapons for the Polish F-35s - Soon [ Exclusive]

Italian Stormo 31 F-35 was the only jet as such presented during ILA 2022.
Photo. J. Sabak

Poland has submitted price and availability LOR, regarding the armament for the 5th Gen. F-35 fighter jets, found out off the record. This has not been confirmed by the Armament Agency, stating that the equipment is being procured in „an ongoing manner”, also cross-compliant with the F-16. At the same time, the agency has not denied the fact that a request as such was submitted. found out off the record that the Polish authorities have submitted a Letter of Request for Price and Availability (LOR P&A) to the US authorities, regarding a weapons package for the F-35 MRCA, procured within the framework of the Harpia programme.

The information on LOR P&A submission was neither confirmed nor denied by the Armament Agency. The Spokesperson for the Agency, Lt. Col. Krzysztof Płatek, told us the following: "I hereby inform that weapons destined for the aircraft that are operated, and planned to be commissioned in the Polish Air Force, are all being procured in an ongoing manner, in line with confidential planning documents remaining in force at the Polish MoD. One shall also stress the fact that the F-35A jets would, to a broad extent, utilize weapons identical to the F-16 Block 52+".

Therefore, as Lt. Col. Płatek said, the F-35A of the Polish Air Force will be capable of using a broad spectrum of weapons that Poland has at its disposal. These include AIM-120C-5 and C-7 AMRAAMs, and AIM-9X Sidewinders in the air-to-air department, along with AGM-154C JSOW, JDAM, and Paveway air-to-ground weapons.

In practical terms, however, procurement of new generation fighter aircraft shall also naturally entail an acquisition of a weapons package. Looking at that in comparison to other countries, that may refer to upgraded variants of legacy weapons - such as the AIM-120D AMRAAM, becoming more and more common acquisition among the F-35 user group.

Poland may also be interested in air-to-ground weapons designed for the fifth generation fighter weapons bays - so that no stealth characteristics are lost - this includes SDB-II bombs or AARGM-ER anti-radiation missiles. Poland was already expressing its interest in those back in 2018. It is also possible that European armament could be procured for the F-35, such as the ASRAAM/Meteor air-to-air missiles, or Spear air-to-surface missiles.

LOR P&A - What is it?

Usually, the LOR P&A letter is the first step in the FMS acquisitions. The expected reply would probably include estimates on numbers, deadlines, and pricing for the individual weapons systems requested by Warsaw. LOR P&A is not binding in formal terms, it does not oblige the party to procure armament covered by the request. In practical terms, however, usually LOR (Letter of Request) comes next, being a formal request for delivery of weapons, contracted by the US government.

Throughout the process of preparing a reply to LOR, the State Department needs to issue consent, and Congress needs to be notified. Congress has a right to oppose the transaction, but this scenario has been a rare case for NATO allies, if the agreement is informally arranged beforehand, by the State Department. A detailed list of procured weapons is usually published along with the notification, also including the maximum transactional amount.

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If Congress rejects the request, a response is sent to the requesting state, via FMS. Then, after the so-called line-by-line review, the final agreement is signed, provided that the Parties involved reach a consensus. It has been common for Poland in recent years to procure armament using the FMS scheme. Poland acquired the F-35, Abrams MBTs, HIMARS system, Patriot/IBCS systems, upgrade package for F-16s, with AGM-158A JASSM missiles, AGM-158B JASSM-ER missiles, and AIM-9X Block II plus AIM-120C-7 AMRAAM AAMs for the F-16s.