On November 14, 2022, the first US Air Force F-16 multirole fighters were handed over to the service center in Bydgoszcz. The ceremony was attended by the US Ambassador to Poland, Mark Brzezinski. The Prime Minister also paid a visit to the facility. During speeches by invited guests and company officials, the importance of the center for our economy and Poland’s security was repeatedly mentioned.

AAR Government Services Inc. together with local subcontractors including Wojskowy Zakłady Lotnicze Nr 2 S.A. (WZL Nr. 2 S.A.) and Alioth Maintenance Solutions Sp. z o.o. (AMS) will be responsible for carrying out major maintenance and repairs on F-16 aircraft operated by the US Air Force in Europe, as well as extending the airframe’s service life under the Service Life Extension Program (SLEP). AMS is responsible for providing qualified maintenance personnel and logistical security for the contract in the areas of transportation and local administrative support, among others.

How will the creation of the center, which, according to the contract, is expected to operate for the next five years (with the possibility of extension until 2032) affect Poland’s security and the Polish economy?

First and foremost, this unprecedented undertaking demonstrates great confidence in Poland’s managerial and engineering staff. It thus serves to strengthen Polish-American relations. The United States remains our key ally. Since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, the presence of NATO troops in Poland has increased from 6,800 to more than 10,000. The overwhelming majority of them are Americans. They are the guarantor of Poland’s security. However, there is no doubt that the strengthening of our country’s security takes place not only militarily, but also economically. The strategic decision to place a service center in a country on the eastern flank of the Alliance clearly demonstrates the determination of the United States to maintain a significant presence in our region.

The center itself and its infrastructure may also be important from the point of view of supporting the Polish Air Force, which also has F-16 aircraft on its equipment. In the event of an armed conflict, the qualified personnel and infrastructure necessary for servicing, repair and overhaul of the “Hawks” will be located on Polish territory. The Bydgoszcz plant has been carrying out repairs to the landing gear, hydraulics, engines or electrical systems of F-16 aircraft for more than a decade. From now on, under the SLEP program, each machine will undergo a thorough overhaul of the airframe allowing to extend the service life from 8,000 to 12,000 hours. This will allow the US F-16s (Block 40-52) to operate safely until at least the middle of this century.

Given the recently announced purchases of new-generation aircraft, enhancing the capabilities of the Polish defense industry, the competence of its personnel and overall business opportunities will be important (especially in the context of the retirement of Soviet-built aircraft).

Pointing after Rzeczpospolita, the press service of WZL Nr. 2 S.A. estimates that the market for maintenance services for F-16 aircraft may include in the coming years even ca. 1,000 combat jets from NATO countries. This model of fighter jet is currently used by the air forces of 26 countries. Soon, additional aircraft will appear in countries such as Romania (which has ordered dozens of used F-16s) and Bulgaria and Slovakia. Thus, there is a good chance that not only aircraft equipped by the US Air Force, but also other members of the Alliance will be serviced in Bydgoszcz. Poland may thus become an infrastructural and logistical “hub” on the Alliance’s eastern flank for maintaining the efficiency of the Air Force. Economically, a maintenance center in Poland means that aircraft will not have to be transported to the States to secure proper operation, and it will be possible to do so “on site.” Aircraft that remain in Europe increase the combat readiness of NATO air forces. Overhaul and replacement of worn-out components of such high-tech aircraft as the F-16s are costly processes that will now be performed in Poland. As representatives of AAR Government Services Inc. point out, the launch of the center will also translate into the creation of additional jobs in the region and economic growth.

AMS’ participation in the aforementioned project is not only something to be proud of, but also our contribution to building a safe tomorrow for Poland.