Why Did Poland Choose The F-16?

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Connections: The Quarterly Journal, Volume 7, Issue 1, p.1-15 (2008)


Poland; Lockheed Martin F-16; Saab/BAE Systems JAS-39 Gripen; Dassault Mirage 2000-5 Mk II; acquisition; technical comparison; financing; offset; U.S.-Polish relation-ship; fighter competition


This essay provides a comprehensive synthesis of the Polish military’s fighter aircraft selection process, assesses the dominant issues, and answers the question, “Why did Poland choose the F-16?” It begins with a brief examination of Poland’s military aircraft status and military aircraft industrial production capability from approximately 1990 to 2002, its requirements for an advanced fighter aircraft, and Poland’s military hardware procurement and acquisition processes. Analysis then turns to acquisition reforms associated with the F-16 decision, the institutional structure for purchasing military aircraft, the mechanics of the F-16 decision, and who ultimately made the decision. Given the centrality to the decision process, a capabilities comparison of the three competitors—the Lockheed Martin F-16, Saab/BAE Systems JAS-39 Gripen, and the Dassault Mirage 2000-5 Mk II—is offered and interoperability considerations addressed. This study then outlines the financial construction of the three bids, to include economic issues and pressures from the U.S., French, and Swedish governments and industry, and an in-depth analysis of industrial offsets. Lastly, it will examine political issues associated with the F-16 purchase