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Agreement reached on transfer of F-16s to Poland

November 5, 2000 (by Lieven Dewitte) - An agreement regarding the "no-cost" transfer of 16 surplus F-16A/B fighters to Poland was reached last week.
The older model F-16s are currently in storage at Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz., and would require some refurbishment by Lockheed Martin. The no-cost lease comes as the result of the aircraft's significant number of flying hours and the need for a large upgrade and support package.

Under the negotiated agreement, Poland would receive the 16 fighters at no cost per aircraft, but would have to pay "depreciation charges" to the United States over the span of the proposed five-year lease, according to a Pentagon source. The final value of the package is about $250 million. The lease consists of two separate parts, the transfer of the 16 fighters and the related upgrade and support package.

About $17 million, the Pentagon's estimated value of the planes, was waived from the final proposal. The exact amount of the depreciation charges was not disclosed.

The proposed lease will serve as an interim solution for Poland, which has been seeking about 60 new fighter aircraft to replace aging Soviet MiG-21s and complement upgraded MiG-29s by 2010. In the meantime, it has been seeking 16 aircraft by 2002.

A industry analysts say that this lease would be a "real foot in the door for Lockheed Martin" because it takes some pressure off the Polish government to buy European fighters in the future.

Congress was notified last Wednesday and has 15 days to approve the transfer under Article 36B of the Arms Export Control Law.

A letter of agreement is expected to be signed during the first quarter of 2001. If approved by Congress and the Polish government, deliveries could begin in early 2003.