Polish defence minister outlines spending priorities

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Poland will spend around PZl60 billion ($24.4 billion) to modernise its armed forces by 2018, according to defence minister Bogdan Klich.

Air force and defence ministry sources say a long-awaited tender for a new fleet of advanced jet trainers will be launched during 2009, while Klich says only that "Poland is waiting for attractive proposals".

Two potential bidders for the requirement exhibited at the 8-11 September International Defence Industry Exhibition (MSPO) in Kielce, Poland, with BAE Systems offering the Hawk 128, and Lockheed Martin/Korea Aerospace Industries promoting the T-50. Representatives from BAE and Lockheed say they are still waiting for the tender to receive the green light, but will be ready to answer Warsaw's request for proposals. The successful AJT will bidder will supply aircraft to replace Poland's current PZL Mielec TS-11 Iskras.

Additional air force acquisitions will include two multirole tanker-transport aircraft, with PZl450 million having been set aside in the defence ministry's preliminary budget for 2008-12. Contenders are the Boeing KC-767, EADS Casa-sourced Airbus A310 or A330, and a 767 conversion offered by Israel Aerospace Industries' Bedek subsidiary.

Warsaw also intends to launch next year a contest for a new fleet of VIP aircraft. "Poland wants to buy three mid-range aircraft, with a fourth as an option," says Klich.

Poland's air force will by year-end receive its last of 48 Lockheed F-16C/D fighters, and in November get its first of six secondhand Lockheed C-130E transports from the USA. Two new EADS Casa C-295s will also be delivered in 2009.

Additional reporting by Grzegorz Sobczak