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Poland signs off on purchase of 32 F-35s worth $4.6B

Deal agreed to by Polish government despite F-35 program's myriad woes, including recent accuracy revelations

By Michael Hernandez   | 31.01.2020
Poland signs off on purchase of 32 F-35s worth $4.6B

WASHINGTON

The U.S. welcomed Friday Poland's decision to purchase 32 F-35 Joint Strike Fighters in a deal estimated to be worth $4.6 billion.

"We commend President Duda, Prime Minister Morawiecki, and the Polish government’s commitment to continue modernizing Poland’s military through the acquisition of the world’s most advanced fighter aircraft, which will improve Poland’s ability to provide collective and self-defense," State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said in a statement.

"We look forward to working with our NATO Ally Poland on this project and continuing to enhance our long-term strategic partnership," she added.

Warsaw is purchasing the A variant of the F-35 fifth-generation stealth fighter aircraft, which is the conventional takeoff model designed for the U.S. and partner air forces.

But the F-35 program has endured a series of technical flaws in its lengthy development cycle that has resulted in mammoth cost over-runs.

Most recently, Bloomberg News reported that the Pentagon's annual review of the aircraft found 873 software deficiencies, and discovered that the accuracy of the internal gatling gun featured in the A variant is "unacceptable."

The gun is also encased in a housing that is cracking, the Pentagon's test office reportedly found.

Unlike the other two major F-35 variants the gun is mounted inside the aircraft for additional stealth capabilities.

The Pentagon's operational test and evaluations director, Robert Behler, identified a long list of issues that need to be fixed, including 13 he identified as Category 1 "must-fix" before the program's $22 billion Block 4 phase begins.

But both the number of Category 1 items and software deficiencies has seen modest declines since the jet began combat testing in September 2018.

Bloomberg obtained a copy of Behler's report, which has not yet been made publicly available.

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