Procurement: January 21, 2003


Poland's decision to buy American F-16 fighters has infuriated the French, who had backed Polish membership in the European Union in the expectation that they would get the fighter contract. The Poles ordered 48 F-16s to replace 85 ancient MiG-21s. The deal gives Lockheed Martin enough orders (356 of them) to keep the F-16 in production through 2008. The US government provided special financing to secure the deal and freeze out the European fighters from the contest. Even more infuriating to the Europeans is that Lockheed Martin is using this to pave the way for Poland to move into the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program, as it gives the Poles a direct link to the industrial base that builds the new fighter. --Stephen V Cole


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