JANOW, Poland — Poland struck $3 billion deals with South Korea on Friday to purchase 48 Korean FA-50 fighter jets as the central European country moves urgently to boost its capabilities deterrence and defense in Russia’s war against neighboring Ukraine.
The two deals to buy Fighting Falcon fighter and trainer jets follow contracts signed last month for Poland’s $5.8 billion acquisition of South Korean tanks and howitzers. .
Polish President Andrzej Duda, who is the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, and South Korean Defense Acquisition Program Administration Minister Eom Dong-hwan attended the signing ceremony at a military airport in Janow, near Minsk Mazowiecki Air Base, in central Poland.
The documents were signed by Polish Deputy Prime Minister who is also Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak, who said it was “another historic day when new perspectives are opening up before the Polish Armed Forces”.
Eom said that with contracts, cooperation is taken to a higher level.
“Until recently, we were partners. Now we can say we are allies,” he said.
Under a deal, worth $700 million, the first 12 planes are to be delivered in the second half of next year. The second contract, estimated at $2.3 billion, covers the delivery of 36 aircraft between 2025 and 2028.
According to Duda, the purchase of the FA-50 fighters “will allow us to completely abandon the use of the (Soviet-made) MiG-29s and Su-22s” now available to the Polish Armed Forces, as a legacy of the era, decades ago, when he belonged to the Moscow-led Warsaw Pact.
Duda said Korea sees the deals as an “opening for Korean fighter jets in European Union and NATO markets.”
The light two-seater aircraft are manufactured by Korea Aerospace Industries jointly with the American company Lockheed Martin, and are compatible with American-made F-16 fighters equipped with the Polish Air Force and with contracted F-35A fighters , according to the Polish Ministry of Defence.
The agreements include training, logistics and the transfer of certain service technologies. Warsaw says it is one of Poland’s biggest and most important defense deals in recent years.
Poland, like other European countries and the United States, has sent military equipment to Ukraine since the Russian invasion. Warsaw is looking to replace some of this equipment, including with US-made Abrams tanks.
By Rafal Niedzielsky