JANOW, Poland (AP) — Poland on Friday sealed $3 billion deals with South Korea for the purchase of 48 Korean FA-50 fighter planes as the central European country takes urgent steps to increase its deterrence and defense capabilities amid Russia’s war on neighboring Ukraine.

The two deals for the purchase of Fighting Falcon combat and training planes follow contracts signed last month for the acquisition by Poland of some $5.8 billion worth of South Korean tanks and howitzers.

Poland’s President Andrzej Duda, who is the armed forces’ supreme commander, and South Korea’s Minister of Defense Acquisition Program Administration, Eom Dong-hwan, attended the signing ceremony at a military airport in Janow, near the Air Force base of Minsk Mazowiecki, in central Poland.

The documents were signed by Poland’s deputy prime minister who is also the defense minister, Mariusz Blaszczak, who handed them to South Korean officials.

Blaszczak said it was “another historic day when new perspectives are opening before Poland’s armed forces.”

He said that in seeking to purchase new equipment, Poland was guided by the criteria of “need, modernity, speed and certainty (of delivery) and compatibility.”

“All these criteria are met thanks to our cooperation with South Korea,” Blaszczak said.

Eom said that with the contracts, the cooperation is being raised to a higher level.

“Until recently, we were partners. Now we can say that we are allies,” he said.

Under one of the agreements, worth some $700 million, the first 12 planes are to be delivered early in the second half of next year. The second deal, estimated at some $2.3 billion, is for 36 planes with technical and combat features specified by Poland, to be delivered between 2025 and 2028.

The light, two-seater planes are made by Korea Aerospace Industries jointly with U.S. company Lockheed Martin, and are compatible with the U.S.-made F-16 fighters that Poland’s air force is equipped with and with the contracted F-35A fighters, according to Poland’s Defense Ministry.

The deals include training, logistics and transfer of some technologies that will allow for the servicing of the planes in Poland starting in 2026. Warsaw says this is one of Poland’s biggest and most important defense deals in recent years.

Poland’s conservative government is taking steps to enhance the NATO member nation’s armed forces in response to neighboring Russia’s aggression in Ukraine.

Poland, like other European nations and the United States, has sent military equipment to Ukraine during almost seven months of war. Warsaw is seeking to replace some of that equipment, including with U.S.-made Abrams tanks.


Follow all AP developments related to the war in Ukraine at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine.