At this years MSPO in Kielce Eurofighter is pushing hard for a possible sale in Poland which could boost it’s overall sales and provide continued stream of revenue in the upcoming years.
It is not a secret that the production line needs new orders and a possible sale of even 48 new aircraft would allow a few more years of steady revenue. Later on Poland would have to join the rest of the countries and upgrade their aircraft through mild life upgrade programs or other solutions bumping the capabilities of the fighters.
“Make in Poland”
Joining the Eurofighter users group Poland would come very late to the table, as possibly one of the last countries in the world with such a big order. This would be beneficial for the original founders of this aircraft, the countries and companies which stand behind them and their workforce but would it be good for Poland? There is a “make in India” initiative and I think that it wouldn’t be bad to transfer it on the Polish soil and re-brand to “make in Poland”. Would Eurofighter be willing to produce a big chunk of the order locally? For instance 36 of the 48 ordered? Would Eurofighter be willing to transfer the technology to Polish firms with Polish backed capital and not to foreign branches of big companies located in Poland which could be closed within a month when a decision from the headquarters comes? This would be a game changer which could potentially allow for a swing to the Eurofighter camp. Although there are no slogan statements like “make in Poland” we can already observe this trend that more and more military equipment is bought locally. This is a trend and a chance for the Polish industry and putting options on the polish military market table must consider this trend.
The F-16 advantage
The biggest problem for the Eurofighter in Poland are the already 10 years old F-16’s. Buying 48 more of them would be the simplest way – all of the personnel could be trained locally with just minor re training on a newer type with newer equipment, all of the tools and associated equipment is already ready for the growth of the force. This would bring the costs down and allow to get more for the buck. With Eurofighter we would have to prepare a complete new ecosystem to incorporate the aircraft into the Polish army. This would cost a lot of money. Can the Eurofighter win in such circumstances?
More for less!
Can Eurofighter give Poland more for the Euro and beat the F-16 advantage? Well the answer is pretty straightforward. The F-16 offset was a tragedy and no one would like to repeat it. Can Eurofighter leadership learn form it and present something really interesting for the tax payer? Poland doesn’t need new assembly lines of foreign corporations. We have plenty of them wit no real benefit for the Nation. But would such a huge offset be still beneficial to the consortium? It is hard to tell but Saab has managed to swing Brazil with such benefits and they still probably earn a decent payout. Maybe this is the right path?
Having two systems might cost the tax payer a bit (or more than a bit) more but in the end we must remember about the benefits of having two separate systems. If one fails from some reasons the other one might still be operational. Having two providers allows for the diversification of the bonds and interconnections with other powers which is also good from a tax payers view. More options give more flexibility and allows competition which can be beneficial for the Nation as a whole.
This is a very complex problem and I have just highlighted only some of the key issues with many more to consider (I haven’t touched the technical aspects of modern fighters as this would need a separate article). No matter which option will be picked up Poland has to follow the path (or even better adapt the path to Polish environment) of countries like South Korea which can now build their own fast jets. The next big tender might be a good starting point to achieve a success which could resemble the one that the Koreans have managed to bake in a couple of decades.