US to Lease F-16 Warplanes to Poland Cost-Free
Washington, 10th November:
The US has suggested a cost-free lease of F- 16 planes to Poland in return for supplies of plane parts and subassemblies from Polish arms plants, Minister of National Defence Bronislaw Komorowski told PAP in Washington on Friday [10th November] following the Thursday [9th November] conclusion of talks with representatives of the F-16 producing Lockheed Martin Corporation.
Komorowski said that the US offer was the best of all reviewed by Poland so far and involved total coverage of the planes' lease costs with Polish arms products. This, he said, meant "good news for Poland's aviation industry".
According to other sources, Lockheed Martin will have to spend additional millions of dollars on modernizing the planes before leasing them to Poland.
The first tranche of F-16s for the Polish air force will probably include 16 used machines. In all, Poland wants to acquire a fleet of 90 multi-role military planes.
Meanwhile, in Warsaw, [presidential] National Security Bureau (BBN) head Marek Siwiec called the government's strivings for the F- 16's "a minority cabinet's over-zealousness in the final pre- election lap".
"This is a financial issue, but it is also a case of over- zealousness on the government's part. This is a minority government approaching its last stretch of office pending the elections," Siwiec argued, adding that Poland's Air Force had been "as much in need of new planes a year or two ago as today".
According to Siwiec, decisions about the planes should have been consulted with the opposition. "Such moves have to have the consent both of those in power now and those who plan to take over government in future," he stated. Siwiec also said that the minister of defence has so far failed to inform the president about his moves relating to the planes.