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    FA-50 aircraft to reach Poland next year, K2 tanks later this year

    Poland has purchased FA-50 combat aircraft from South Korea because of the impossibility of buying US-made F-16s, the Polish defence minister has said.

    Mariusz Blaszczak explained that Poland “cannot wait” for new aircraft, hence the need to buy the FA-50s. He added that the jets should arrive in Poland as early as next year, while 180 K2 tanks will arrive this year.

    Speaking to the Defence24.pl website, Blaszczak, who is also a deputy prime minister, said the F-16’s producer, Lockheed Martin, is currently focused on producing the F-35, adding that he had spoken to Poland’s US partners many times on the subject.

    Blaszczak told the website the decision to buy equipment from South Korea was based on the hardware’s effectiveness, speed of delivery and benefits to the industry.

    “The contract we managed to negotiate with the Koreans combines all these elements,” he said. “Other equipment producers were not in a position to deliver us arms of that quality in such a short time and with such broad cooperation with the Polish defence industry.

    “The contract for K2 tanks has been divided into two parts,” Blaszczak added. “In the first part, we will gain 180 tanks; deliveries will start this year. The second stage is over 800 tanks of the K2PL standard, which will be produced in Poland by the Polish defence industry thanks to a transfer of technology we negotiated. Eventually, the tanks received in the first stage will also be Polonised and brought to the K2PL standard.”

    Blaszczak said the tank deal also included engineering support.

    The defence minister went on to say that 48 K9 howitzers would arrive this year as part of another deal divided into stages, in order to fill a gap created by the donation of howitzers to Ukraine.

    “Next we will order more than 600 howitzers, which will be produced in Poland to the K9PL standard,” Blaszczak said.

    “It’s worth noting that from the outset the K9 will be equipped with Polish communication systems and plugged into the Topaz combat management system. The transfer of technology concerning the FA-50 enables us to create a service centre in Poland. We negotiated the contract in cooperation with PGZ (Polish defence group – editor’s note) in order for Polish industry to make use of the opportunity to the maximum.”

    Blaszczak said the decision to buy three squadrons of the FA-50 was based on recommendations from Polish military pilots, and the fact that the aircraft are light and multi-functional, and based on the F-16 so the infrastructure Poland already has can be adapted seamlessly. He added that the FA-50 is an ideal aircraft to train pilots to fly the F-16 and that they would need just a few hours to adapt to the latter.

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