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Poland to Replace Soviet-Era Fighter Jets with US F-16s - 2002-12-28

Poland has decided to buy more than $3 billion worth of U.S.-made fighter jets to upgrade its air force. President Bush discussed the deal Friday with Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski.

White House spokesman Scott McClellan said President Bush welcomed Poland's decision to buy the F-16 fighter jets. Mr. McClellan says the telephone call was a "warm conversation" reflecting what he calls "the close relationship" between the countries.

He added President Bush and President Kwasniewski also discussed Iraq's failure to provide what he called "full information" to United Nations weapons inspectors.

Poland chose the U.S.-made jets over rival offers from a French manufacturer and a British-Swedish consortium. The 48 planes will replace Poland's Soviet-era jets and bring the country's air force up to the standards of the NATO alliance, which the former communist country joined in 1999.

A statement from the U.S. air force says Poland's decision "opens many new avenues for U.S. Polish cooperation" including joint training and common tactics which will enable Poland to fully participate in what it calls "regional and international efforts."