By C. Todd Lopez
WASHINGTON (June 11, 2019) -- Polish Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak visited Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, to take a look at the F-35 Lightning II joint strike fighter aircraft.
Senior U.S. defense officials said the Polish government has submitted a letter of request to purchase the F-35 aircraft, and that the Defense Department is working through the foreign military sales process to develop an offer for the Polish government.
Poland's Defense Ministry highlighted yesterday's visit to Eglin through a statement on Twitter: "On June 10-13, Mariusz Blaszczak visits U.S.," the ministry statement reads. "On the first day he visited ... Eglin Air Force Base, where he got acquainted with F-35 -- the latest generation aircraft-development program: 'Soon we will join the elite group of countries using the best #F35,' said Mariusz Blaszczak."
Today, Blaszczak met with Acting Defense Secretary Patrick M. Shanahan at the Pentagon.
"We respect and appreciate Poland's contributions, in terms of burden sharing, capacity building, readiness and the ability to conduct joint operations and just a whole host of what I would call model capabilities," Shanahan said.
Blaszczak reflected on a century of U.S. and Polish relations.
"It's been 100 years since we have established our diplomatic relations," he said. "Throughout those 100 years, our countries have experienced many examples of mutual support. A great example of that is the 20th anniversary of Poland joining NATO -- which we are celebrating this year -- which would have not been possible if not for the U.S.'s strong support."