First F-35s in 2026 - military official

General Nowak said that the switch to the F-35s will not be problematic for Polish crews. Grzegorz Michałowski/PAP

Poland will receive the first of 32 F-35 fighters in January 2026, an air force general announced on Monday.

General Ireneusz Nowak said the high-tech aircraft will be stationed at Łask Air Base in central Poland.

Poland signed a contract with the United States in 2020 to buy the F35A Lightning II for $4.6 billion. The deal means that Poland will become the first country in the region to operate the multi-role combat aircraft that has the ability to take-off and land vertically.

General Nowak said that the switch to the F-35s will not be problematic for Polish crews. He described the US-made fighter as "a new generation aircraft," and said its adoption by the Polish air force was "not so much a step, but a leap forward."

He also said that the F-35s will not only strengthen Poland's air defences, but will also act as a reinforcement for other forces, including that army and navy.

Earlier on Monday Poland's defence minister, Mariusz Błaszczak, visited the Łask base to speak to pilots who will fly the aircraft and who have recently completed an F-35 simulation training course in the US.

Błaszczak confirmed that Łask Air Base will be the home of the first Polish F-35 squadron. He added that it will be manned by a team of 24 pilots aided by a 90-strong service crew.