Amid Russia tensions, Poland plans to buy 32 F-35A fighters: minister

WARSAW (Reuters) – Poland plans to buy 32 Lockheed Martin F-35A fighters to replace Soviet-era jets, Defence Minister Mariusz Blaszczak said on Tuesday, amid the growing assertiveness of neighbour Russia.

“Today we sent a request for quotation (LOR) to our American partners regarding the purchase of 32 F-35A aircraft along with a logistics and training package,” Blaszczak tweeted.

The US is expected to expand sales of F-35 fighters to five nations including Poland as European allies bulk up their defenses in the face of a strengthening Russia, the Pentagon said last month.

Poland is among NATO member countries that spend at least 2% of GDP on defence. Warsaw agreed in 2017 to raise defence spending gradually from 2% to 2.5% of GDP, meaning annual spending should nearly double to about 80 billion zlotys ($21 billion) by 2032.

US arms sales to foreign governments rose 13% to $192.3 billion in the year ended Sept. 30, the US State Department said in November. F-35A fighters are estimated to cost $85 million each.

During a televised statement on Tuesday, Blaszczak also said Poland was making progress in convincing the US to increase its military presence on Polish soil.

(Reporting by Marcin Goclowski; editing by Mark Potter)

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