F-15EX for Poland

By Bartosz Glowacki

KIELCE, Poland — Boeing today announced it is actively seeking to sell its F-15EX fighter aircraft to Poland — but for now, both sides are keeping their cards close to their chest.

Boeing held a Thursday press conference at the annual MSPO defense trade exhibition, although offered little in the way of details about what a potential F-15EX buy would look like.

Rob Novotny, director of business development for Boeing’s F-15 program, declined to talk about “price and delivery schedule” for the American firm’s offering to Warsaw. He also acknowledged that “there is no negotiations and no contract talks, only some conversations with Polish Air Force.”

And yet, nothing can be ruled out in terms of Poland’s defense spending. Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began in February 2022, Warsaw has spent mightily on modernizing its military hardware. Among the splashy orders were Abrams tanks, Apache combat helicopters and HIMARS rocket launchers from the United States, South Korean-made K2 tanks, Chunmoo rocket launchers, K9 self-propelled howitzers and FA-50 combat aircraft, and at least two Swedish early warning aircraft to complement additional tethered warning systems. Just this week, Poland announced plans to spend around $15 billion on air defense assets.

More to the point, Poland does have a stated desire to increase the number of fighter jets in service, with Maj. Gen. Ireneusz Nowak, the chief of Poland’s air force, previously starting the service should “have 160 combat aircraft,” which is equivalent to 10 tactical squadrons. Under such a rubric, Poland buying two or three squadrons of F-15EX (32-48 aircraft) for its air dominance requirements could make sense, even with Warsaw already under contract for both the FA-50 and F-35.

The government’s Armament Agency is currently analyzing options, which reportedly could also include acquiring Eurofighter Typhoons or continuing the new defense relationship with South Korea by joining the KF-21 Boramae program.

Novotny said Boeing was open to configuring the F-15EX for Poland’s needs, saying “there is a room for Polonization, for example electronic warfare system or radios, or other systems, but sometimes there are some additional engineering costs” related to customization.

This article appeared on Breaking Defense on September 7, 2023.