The offset committee working on behalf of the Polish Ministry of Defense (MoD) informed about its resignation to further seek any form of an offset agreement in relation to the planned procurement of 32 F-35A Lightning II multirole fighter aircraft. Sources within the department inform that offset scenarios presented by the US Government were not satisfactory.
Offset committee’s decision means that the deal on procurement of F-35 multirole fighter aircraft could be made much quicker than it was originally expected, as the original requirement to previously reach the offset agreement in no longer binding. The contract for the first batch of F-35 fighter jets could signed even in a matter of weeks (U.S. approves F-35 sale to Poland, 2019-09-11).
Meanwhile, any future partnerships between US and Polish defence industries launched in relation to this acquisition would most likely take a form of a business-to-business cooperation, without any significant governmental involvement.
Originally, Poland was interested in gaining substantial benefits of the offset agreement, through joining the multinational Joint Strike Fighter programme. However, this turned out to be impossible, as the programme in its industrial form is closed to countries, which did not join it at its initial phase.
The MoD informed that remaining offset options, which were presented by the US, referred mostly to achieving an incomplete capacity of servicing a fleet of Polish F-16 multirole fighters and C-130 Hercules transport aircraft, and were assessed as unsatisfactory from the Polish perspective.
At the same time the MoD informed about its intentions to join the ‘Loyal Wingman’ programme at the earliest possible phase, as Poland plans to become one of the founding nations of the project. According to the department, it will allow the country to gain significant benefits, financial and industrial, well into the future. The ‘Loyal Wingman’ programme was included in the ‘Technical Modernization Plan 2021-2035’, which was announced by the MoD in late 2019.