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More F-16s for the Polish Air Force? “Acceleration Possible if Money’s Available”

Image Credit: Grzegorz Łyko, Artur Weber/DPI MON
Image Credit: Grzegorz Łyko, Artur Weber/DPI MON

Polish military assumes that accelerated procurement of extra F-16 fighters may be possible if extra funds are available. However, acquisition of the F-35 is a priority for the Polish Ministry of Defence. Acquisition of the AGM-88E AARGM anti-radiation missiles has also been placed among the tasks included in the redefined Technical Modernization Plan.

The new Polish MoD’s Technical Modernization Plan covering the timeline until the year 2035 envisages, alongside the Harpia programme aimed at procuring the F-35, procurement of extra F-16 jets. Responding to questions asked by the Press Team at the General Staff of the Polish Armed Forces announced that accelerated acquisition of the latter may be possible if funds are transferred from other modernization programmes. The General Staff claims that acquisition of the F-35 is still a priority.

We would like to kindly inform you that recommendations pertaining to all aspects of accomplishment of the task are defined within the documentation of results of the analytical-conceptual phase. Currently it remains a priority for the MoD, within the scope of increasing the Air Force’s potential, to procure the F-35 5th generation fighters. Accelerated acquisition of the F-16 is potentially possible after funds are freed and available, in case of the remaining modernization programmes (over the course of implementing the Technical Modernization Plan).

Press Team at the General Staff

The information provided by the General Staff of the Polish Armed Forces is somewhat in line with the statements made recently by the Air Force Inspector and MoD’s Harpia Programme Plenipotentiary, Divisional General, Pilot, Jacek Pszczoła. The General claimed that “until the F-35 is acquired we will not be making efforts, in parallel, aimed at acquisition of extra F-16 jets”. Thus, the MoD considers introduction of the new aircraft to be the primary task.

So far we do not know whether Poland would like to acquire second-hand or brand new F-16 jets. It also seems that time required to accomplish the task depends on the availability of funds within other domains in the Technical Modernization Plan, thus no specific timeline can be defined here.

Responding to our questions the General Staff of the Polish Armed Forces also announced that the new Technical Modernization Plan also “includes the task pertaining to procurement of missiles that can be guided towards the sources of EM radiation, the AGM-88E AARGM”.

Acquisition of the AARGM missiles had been included in the previous plan covering the period until 2026. We have been reporting on that in September 2018. Poland had also been asking the US about prices and availability of the AGM-88E AARGM and of the AARGM-ER missiles.

AARGM is a new generation anti-radiation missile designed on the basis of the HARM design and created within the framework of a joint programme undertaken by the US Navy and the Italian Air Force. The missiles in question feature a new digital passive radar, millimeter radar and INS/GPS navigation system. AARGM-ER, meanwhile, is a development of the original AARGM effector that is a subject of an R&D initiative. It would feature a new design and propulsion unit extending its range and allowing it to reach much higher speeds. AARGM-ER is expected to fit inside the internal weapon bays of the 5th generation jets.