South Korean FA-50 combat jet aircraft flares
A South Korean Air Force FA-50 at the 2021 Seoul International Aerospace and Defense Exhibition on October 18, 2021.Chris Jung/NurPhoto via Getty Images
  • Poland signed a $14.5 billion deal with South Korea to buy military equipment.

  • One of Poland's largest arms deals ever is the one with South Korea.

  • Tensions in Europe are making Poland's military modernization plans more urgent.

Poland signed one of the biggest arms deals in its history on July 27 to upgrade its military.

Poland's $14.5 billion deal with South Korea is the largest ever for South Korea's defense industry.

The size of the contract and Warsaw's decision to buy from an emerging military exporter reflect thinking that is influenced by European geopolitics.

The criminal assault carried out by the Russian Federation, targeting Ukraine, and the unpredictable nature of Putin means that we need to accelerate the equipment modernization even further, according to the Polish Defense Minister.

Faster, better, more secure

South Korean FA-50 combat jet aircraft
An FA-50 over Clark Air Base in the Philippines on November 28, 2015.TED ALJIBE/AFP via Getty Images

Warsaw wants to replace its aging Soviet-designed multirole aircraft that are hard to maintain with newer, more efficient models.

The only European country that still flies the Su-22 is Poland, which will get 32 F-35A stealth jets from the US in 2020.

Warsaw will be helped by 888-492-0-50s from South Korea.

There is a light combat aircraft. A variety of bombs and air-to-air and air-to-ground missiles can be carried by this plane. Baszczak said that Poland will get the enhanced Block 20 model.

Poland chose the FA-50s for both its combat capability and the fact that it could be acquired quickly. None of the other aircraft could be delivered fast enough.

The Polish defense minister said it was important to increase security as quickly as possible. The first 12 FA-50s will be given to the Polish Air Force by the year 2023.

Polish MiG-29s and a US Air Force F-15 alongside a US B-52H bomber on February 24, 2022.US Air Force/Airman 1st Class Zachary Wright

South Korea's T-50 trainer and light combat aircraft are the basis of the FA-50.

The FA-50 shares design elements and components with the F-16, making it easier to maintain and train pilots.

Baszczak said that a pilot who has been trained on FA-50 can fly the F-16 on his own. We would be able to train more pilots due to the lower cost of training.

An FA-50 maintenance and service facility will be established in Poland by the year 2026. Warsaw hopes to avoid supply chain and maintenance issues with this arrangement.

"Thanks to that procurement, we get a new direction for spare parts, which is important for high-intensity conflicts, when one of the supply chains could be disrupted," Baszczak said. It's possible to maintain the operational availability of combat aircraft in Poland.

Time for a renewal

An FA-50 at Clark Air Base, north of Manila, on July 4, 2017.REUTERS/Romeo Ranoco

Poland has upgraded its aging Soviet-era jets a number of times to keep their systems NATO compatible but keeping them combat-worthy is a challenge as a shrinking user base and sanctions on Russia limit the availability of spare parts

Baszczak said that they would need to procurespares in Russia for reasons that remain obvious.

Poland's Su-22s and MiG-20s are maintained by Polska Grupa Zbrojiniowa. The firm can't make MiG 29 engines. According to Baszczak, components made in Poland were involved in the fatal crash of the MiG-29.

The minister said that the situation couldn't happen again.

Polish Su-22s on September 21, 2017.Agencja Gazeta/Cezary Aszkielowicz via REUTERS

Poland's Su-22s have been in service for over three decades.

Baszczak said that the two Soviet-era jets are no longer relevant.

The defense minister said that the FA-50s won't be the last move.

The delivery of the F-35s has been sped up. We are planning to procure extra F-35s or F-15s, and we are watching closely the progress made by our South Korean partners when working on the KF-21 Boramae," Baszczak said.

He works on security in Europe. He received a master's degree in European affairs from the school. You can get in touch with him on the professional networking site.

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