Poland wants industrial offsets to order F35

No sooner had Washington announced its intention to exclude Turkey from the F35 program than Lockheed's commercial teams invaded American embassies in several European countries to offer its device, while dangling significant industrial compensation. 3 European countries immediately declared themselves interested, Romania, Greece, and especially Poland, considered by President Trump as the good European student, with defense investments exceeding 2% of GDP and aiming for 3%, and a preference displayed for American equipment.

And Warsaw wasted no time in announcing its intention to initially order 32 F35As, followed by an order for 36 aircraft, to replace the Su-22 and Mis-29 still in service in the Polish air forces, with delivery starting in 2025. Remember that the Polish government has launched a vast plan to modernize its armed forces, with nearly $50 billion to be invested by 2026. The 68 F35A will reinforce the 48 F-16 Block 52+ acquired in 2002 to the detriment of the French Mirage 2000 and the Swedish Gripen. Thus equipped, the Polish air forces will play a major role in Europe, with 116 modern aircraft in the running, where Belgium, whose GDP is close to that of Poland, will only have 32. In recent months, the Polish authorities also acquired Patriot PAC-3 systems and HIMARS artillery systems, making the country one of the main clients of the US defense industry. And the American industrial authorities were not mistaken, since they promised Poland to deliver its F35As directly to the block 4 standard, presented as a new standard that is more open, more flexible, and more efficient, allowing the F35 to come closer to the objectives of the Franco-German FCAS or the British Tempest.

Factory F35 Defense News | Military alliances | Fighter aircraft
The industrial compensations of the F35 program attract desire, but will not be able to satisfy
all the players and customers of the device.

But the Polish authorities, aware of the weight of their orders in the US economy, are determined to obtain compensation from Washington, on both an industrial and operational level. Thus, negotiations have already begun to recover part of the subcontracting contracts currently awarded to the Turkish industry concerning the F35, and which will ultimately represent $2 billion in turnover each year. Warsaw, however, is not the only one to demand this compensation. Jerusalem has already made it known that it too wishes to integrate the industrial program of the aircraft, and Brussels is still waiting for the industrial compensation promised when the Lockheed plane was selected last year. In addition, Rome has repeatedly expressed its dissatisfaction with the non-compliance with American commitments on industrial attributions and exclusivities that first-level partners should have. Finally, industrial compensation proposals have also been made in Switzerland, Finland, Greece and Romania by the American manufacturer. One thing is certain, the cake cannot be divisible at will...

The Polish authorities also link this probable order with the project of permanent deployment of a US armored brigade on its soil, a project commonly referred to as “Fort Trump” in the media. Warsaw's objective is to convince the United States to move part of the forces stationed in Germany to Poland, with the hope of taking advantage of the same privileged position that Federal Germany had in NATO during the cold War. The Polish government has, as such, proposed an envelope of $2 billion for infrastructure financing intended for this American force. American authorities are trying to separate the files and to present acquisition programs as independent of the redeployment of forces, but in vain.

Zapad Russian troops Defense News | Military alliances | Fighter aircraft
An American deployment in Poland would inevitably lead to an increase in the presence of Russian forces in Belarus

However, we can be concerned, in Western Europe, about a Poland that is both militarily powerful, reinforced by the permanent deployment of a substantial American force, and whose hostility towards Moscow continues to grow. In fact, the window of negotiations that President Macron is trying to exploit to prevent the emergence of a Sino-Russian bloc potentially leading to conflicts, seems very limited in time, knowing that in addition, the presence of American troops in Poland, close to Belarus considered as an integral part of the Russian sphere by Moscow, would undoubtedly signal the departure for significant Russian force deployments in Belarus, and the return to a block-based Cold War logic. We understand that at the Pentagon, as in Brussels, this prospect could generate certain concerns...

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