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Poland, becoming NATO’s largest defense contributor after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, is actively seeking a solution to its air superiority deficit. In addition to the Boeing F-15EX, the Eurofighter Typhoon is positioning itself as a prime option, offering interoperability and sovereignty advantages. This article explores in detail the potential of the Eurofighter Typhoon for Poland, and the stakes involved in this crucial decision.
Faced with rapidly evolving security threats in Europe, Poland has embarked on an ambitious defense modernization program. Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, it has become NATO’s largest contributor of military spending, devoting 3.9% of its GDP to defense by 2024. At the heart of this modernization is the quest for air superiority, a pressing need that has attracted the attention of several aircraft manufacturers, including Boeing with its F-15EX and Eurofighter with its Typhoon.
Poland’s need for air superiority
The Polish Air Force has long been considering how to close the emerging air superiority gap. According to the most recent figures, to meet its NATO commitments and ensure its national security, Poland would need to acquire between 150 and 200 fighters over the next few years. However, Poland is looking for a heavier fighter capable of delivering more firepower than the F-35 and F-16 already in service.
The announcement of Poland’s possible interest in the Boeing F-15EX at the MSPO International Defence Industry Exhibition attracted a great deal of attention. However, a European alternative is emerging in the form of the Eurofighter Typhoon.
The Eurofighter Offer
The Eurofighter Typhoon is widely regarded as one of the world’s most advanced fighter aircraft in air superiority and versatility roles. It is in service with several European air forces, and is constantly deployed as part of NATO’s enhanced air policing missions along the alliance’s borders. It is a mature, reliable and highly maneuverable aircraft, capable of carrying a variety of weapons, from Meteor air-to-air missiles to Storm Shadow long-range missiles and Brimstone anti-tank missiles.
One of Eurofighter’s key selling points is the interoperability between the Typhoon and the F-35. While the USAF has not yet deployed enough F-15EXs, cooperation between the Typhoon and the F-35 has already reached a significant degree of maturity. The Polish Air Force could thus capitalize on the experience of the Royal Air Force (which operates both the Typhoon and the F-35B) and the Italian Air Force (combining Typhoon and F-35A/B). By joining Europe’s largest collaborative industrial program, Poland could also consider participation in the Global Combat Air Program (GCAP) in the future.
Sovereignty and technological advantages
Eurofighter highlights a crucial aspect for Poland: sovereignty. Unlike some American aircraft, such as the F-35, the Typhoon would be free of “black boxes” that limit access to the source code of certain components, or sovereignty over certain data collected by onboard systems. This openness could translate into significant benefits for the Polish defense industry.
At a time when Europe’s independence and increased responsibility in defense matters are being debated, sovereignty is a major issue. Eurofighter highlights this aspect, stressing that mission data, including electromagnetic signatures and target geolocation, is essential. Poland is said to be seeking sovereign control over this data, which Eurofighter believes is intrinsic to the Typhoon.
Words from Eurofighter
Costantino Panvini Rosati, Vice President Eurofighter Export at Leonardo, says: “We are firmly convinced that the Eurofighter prospect for Poland, led by Italy and Leonardo and supported by all the systems of the Eurofighter consortium member countries, can offer the most attractive solution for Poland in all its aspects: from proven operational readiness as part of NATO’s Baltic Sea air policing, to high interoperability with the F-35, to continuous evolution through cutting-edge technologies, leading to powerful air superiority and digital stealth capabilities. “
He adds, “Not to mention the prospect of an industrial return that is by no means limited to ‘polonization’, but can offer Poland full sovereignty over its fleet and mission data, as well as a strategic improvement in its technological and industrial position in the defense sector.”
The Polish defense landscape is currently marked by great uncertainty. Bold statements from lobbyists and politicians are multiplying, in anticipation of the upcoming elections in October. We’ll have to wait and see which statements carry weight and which are just part of the ongoing election campaign.
What is certain is that the competition will be intense and that anything is possible. Given Poland’s recent history of military purchases, it’s not out of the question that the country may end up buying more than one type of aircraft to make up for the air superiority deficit. The future will provide answers to these crucial questions.
Consequences of the forthcoming decision
Poland’s decision on air superiority will have consequences on several levels. In military terms, it will determine Poland’s ability to defend its airspace and fulfill its NATO commitments. It will also influence future collaboration with other member countries of the alliance, particularly those operating F-35s.
On the industrial front, the choice of Eurofighter could strengthen the Polish defense industry by providing access to cutting-edge technology and fostering the development of local skills.
Poland is at a crucial crossroads in its quest for air superiority. Between the Boeing F-15EX and the Eurofighter Typhoon, the Polish authorities must make a decision that will have long-term implications for the country’s national security and defense industry. In any case, the Eurofighter offers interoperability, sovereignty and technological advantages that deserve serious consideration. The future will reveal Poland’s choice and its consequences on the international stage.
Fly a jet fighter is the fighter jet experience specialist.