December 15, 1999 (by Lieven Dewitte) - Poland has drawn up plans for financing the acquisition of 60 jet fighters by 2006.
has been putting off the modernization of its fleet of aging Soviet-designed aircraft because of cash shortages. The government has said defense expenditure is less urgent than spending on pension or coal mining reforms. Government officials have said Poland would initially lease or borrow a dozen or so fighters and later gradually buy more.
The supplier of the jets would be expected to invest in Poland's arms industry a sum equivalent to the value of the contract, which independent analysts have estimated at between $1.5 billion and $3 billion. Four Western firms are interested in the deal.
U.S. Boeing and Lockheed Martin are offering their F-18s and F-16s respectively; France's Dassault Aviation hopes to sell its Mirage-2000; and a consortium of British Aerospace and Sweden's Saab are offering the Grippen.