Polish F-35 Deliveries Delayed [EXCLUSIVE]

F-35A Lightning II Polska
Myśliwiec wielozadaniowy F-35A Lightning II wybrany w programie Harpia.
Photo. Lockheed Martin

Polish F-35A jets coming from the 2026 and 2027 lots would be delivered later than originally planned, we have found out from our sources close to the defence industry. During his recent visit to the US, PM Mateusz Morawiecki requested an accelerated delivery of the 5th generation MRCA for Poland.

As found out off the record, the deliveries of the Polish F-35, at least some of them, would be delayed. When it comes to the delivery of 6 aircraft planned for 2026, the initial plans assumed that delivery would begin in March, and end in June. The current schedule assumes that the deliveries would happen in November and December 2026. Another four jets previously expected to be delivered in early 2027 are now expected to be handed off in late 2027.

The deadlines may still change. They would be final once the Pentagon places its order regarding production lots 18 and 19, and these lots are expected to include the first Polish fighter aircraft. The jets for Poland are procured within the framework of the FMS scheme, and a broader manufacturing effort, addressing the needs of the US military, and foreign users.

So far, lots 15, 16, and 17 are the last ones ordered by the DoD (the contractual option is tied to the last lot). A relevant contract within that scope was signed in late December 2022. It includes the first jets covered by FMS agreements, for Poland, Belgium, and Finland. This would be the first lot including equipment required to implement the Block 4 capabilities, procured by Poland (Technology Refresh 3).

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The first jets are being built already, which was announced by Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki during his recent visit to the United States. The deliveries are expected to begin in 2024, whereas a couple of aircraft would remain in the US, for training purposes. The first jets are expected to arrive in Poland between 2025 and 2026.

PM Morawiecki, visiting the Lockheed Martin manufacturing facility, said that he will make efforts to accelerate the delivery of the 5th generation MRCA - The goal of this visit is to accelerate the delivery of the latest US-made equipment for Poland, Morawiecki said.

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In practical terms, making the aforesaid statement true may be challenging. The manufacturing of the F-35s is taking place within a unified system, for all user-nations, so the jets for Poland would be manufactured based on schedules set by the Pentagon, together with Lockheed Martin. Furthermore, Poland procured the Block 4 aircraft, the configuration of which would differ from the jets currently operated by the USAF, or RNLAF.

Let us add that the January 2020 agreement concluded by Poland also includes provisions regarding the upgrade of all jets to the standard that would be delivered in 2030, along with maintenance support. Poland procured 32 F-35A jets with training and logistics packages, at a price of USD 4.6 bn. The deliveries are expected to be finalized by 2030.

The F-35 is a stealth, 5th-generation fighter aircraft. It carries the weapons internally, and it features sensors and a C2 suite making it a net-centric platform. Three variants are available: F-35A (Users: USAF and the Allies), F-35B (USMC, STOVL), and F-35C (US Navy, CATOBAR capable). Belgium, Germany, Switzerland, and Finland also placed their orders for F-35As, alongside Poland. Romania and the Czech Republic are also planning the acquisition of those aircraft.

Co-written with: Jakub Palowski