Polish Deputy Defence Minister Bartosz Kownacki said that Poland is considering the purchase of new F-35s or F-16s to replace aircraft to be phased out of service.

“We must think of our further steps because, in addition to our F-16 aircraft, we have Su-22 and MiG-29 aircraft that will be phased out.

We must think of our next steps, what should be done in this field in a few years.

I can say that, regarding the F-16 and F-35 aircraft, there is an ongoing discussion on which one to select.”

It is understood that earlier plans for used F-16A/Bs was abandoned due to the costs related to upgrading the aircraft typically being higher than purchasing them new.

Poland currently operates over 40 F-16 Block 52+ aircraft.

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Mike Saul

There is no viable alternative to the F35A, this aircraft will dominate the skies for the next 50 years


Seems short sighted to be buying an aircraft in the F16 that is already increasingly obsolete, its only the support environment around it that allows it to be remotely competitive against better opponents, big question whether Poland will have enough of that on the front line in real world scenarios from the east.


“Seems short sighted to be buying an aircraft in the F16 that is already increasingly obsolete, ”

That very much seems to be their concern.
The Polish F-16s cost over $70m each back nearly a decade ago.

As the F-35 goes below $100m for a far greater capability then looking for more F-16’s to soup-up seems a waste.

Nick Bowman

Poland spends 1.9% of its GDP on defense. Perhaps, this new fighter purchase is designed to push that to 2%. The timing of this suggests that political motive.

Para commando

Can’t see Poland being able to afford the F35 at present.in the numbers they will need.
If i was them: i would buy Typhoon Fighter jets orginially built for dog fights against Russia. And maybe a Squadron of F35B if they wanted to join the UK on the Queen Elizabeth Class Carriers in some missions.
This goes for all NATO Countries


2% is spending already. 3% is considered in the future.


Good shout


How do the costs of the typhoon compare to the f35a?


I’d take the two Lightnings I can get for 1 x Eurofighter any day of the week.

Mike Saul

A tranche 3 typhoon costs a lot more than a full rate production F35A.

Capability of a typhoon compared to a F35A? Well RAF pilots say the F35 changes the rules of air warfare. Denmark’s competition to replace the F16 said the F35 was clear winner in all categories over the typhoon and F18E

Based on the all evidence to date, the F35A is most effective combat aircraft available.


Strategically what are Poland’s needs as its on the front line. Are they offensive, deep strike, light payload stealth or dogged swing role defence against aggressor? Other NATO forces gonna do the former with strength to do it effectively (Inc data links to Polish Typhoons) Also stealth capability so close to Russian border might escalate tensions further. Still minded right strategy for Poland is in depth capability for hardcore fist fight on the border as best deterrence.


Not really surprising. The Typhoon was always designed with value in mind rather than raw performance and on top of that the f35 is almost 15 years younger.

Mr Bell

The typhoon is marginally more capable than most Russian air force fighters and once upgrade with new scanning array radars will be superior. The 35A however offers great offensive power coupled with great BVR air combat capability. The typhoon is the here and now best in Europe, the F35 is the future.
Poland should stretch itself to a force of 45-60 F35A or Bs.


The f35 does not offer great offensive power. The f35, if it is to remain “stealthy”, must carry it’s weapons internally. It can only carry 4 aam’s internally or just a few lgb’s, jdam’s etc. The Typhoon, while not a stealthy aircraft, offers far more offensive firepower than the f-35. And as you already mentioned, if it were given a new, more capable aesa radar, the typhoon would be even more capable. Bottom line is that both aircraft were built with a purpose, typhoon for air to air, where as the f35 was supposed to be a magic solution for… Read more »


The ironic thing is that we will have our f35b’s loaded on the carriers bombing low tech opponents whilst we will have less effective typhoons defending our own airspace.


Hi Steve,
If my understanding about range is correct, within a F-35 UK land based strike range there are only our allies. If so I can see why (for now) we’d want to make use of that early capability on a CVW instead where those capabilities can actually be used.


Good point although isn’t one argument often used in favour of the B variant, often mentioned regarding the USMC use of the F35-B, is the ability that STOVL gives to forward base from austere facilities? That would seem to be a potential consideration regarding your observation. I assume that an austere base would still need to ship in some sort of heat matting to absorb heat and prevent foreign object debris which I think I read somewhere that such matting has already been developed. If that is correct then it will be interesting to see whether the RAF (I assume… Read more »


Hi Julian,

Yes STOVL would be an argument in favour of F35 for the reason you state and was already taken into account in my thoughts.

Re STOVL challenges, they are much wider than debris; fuel, logistics, munitions resupply to name a few.

I think the F35s are amazing planes and I’m delighted UK is a major partner in program. UK will use Typhoons as primary swing role UK defence for decades with F35s being force multiplier. Given Poland’s geography and relationship with NATO that’s pretty similar to how I think about their needs.


Hi Ian,

Thanks for the reply. Re the STOVL challenges I only called out the FOD matting because it would need to be special stuff for F-35B so it’s purchase would be a dead giveaway that the RAF were equipping for possible austere forward basing. The equipment purchases to address the other challenges that you mention might not stick out quite so much as an F-35B specific matting purchase and hence be quite such a good flag of what may (or may not) be being contemplated.


Using the STOVL capability from carparks etc, I believe was the original plan behind the harrier, so i can’t imagine that it isn’t being considered now. It’s just a cost problem, which i guess they will spend should tensions grow, as I assume they could be purchased/built relatively quickly.


I Can never see the UK F35 Force deploying into the field like the Harrier Force did. One stone chip on that ultra expensive stealth coating would render the Aircraft U/S or at least take it out of the fight as too expensive (and few in number) to loose and it would probably cost a fortune to repair.