The Polish Air Force made the decision to buy American F-16s over several European models in 2002. While these are older airframes, they are equipped with new avionics, putting Poland on track to have the most advanced Air Force in Europe within the next 10 years. In addition, here's an interesting story about the direction of combat aviation and about the end of fighter planes as we know them:

More and more, it looks like the new 36 ton F-22 and 27 ton F-35 are the end of the road for manned fighter-bombers. Not just because the F-22 and F-35 cost so much to develop, but because so much new tech has arrived on the scene that it simply makes more military, and economic, sense to go with unmanned aircraft. Meanwhile, the existing F-15s, F-16s, F-18s, A-10s and all American heavy bombers are being equipped with new targeting pods and combat Internet connections, along with new radars and all sorts of electronics. Older aircraft are having worn out structural components rebuilt or replaced. This buys time until the unmanned aircraft are ready. F-35s will also fill the gap, which may be a very small one.

Many UAV engineers, and some fighter pilots, believe that combat UAVs could revolutionize air warfare. Combat UAVs can perform maneuvers that a manned aircraft cannot (because there are limits to the g-forces a human body can tolerate.) In theory, software and sensors would make a combat UAV much quicker to sort out a combat situation, and make the right move. For the moment, this aspect of UAV development is officially off the table. But once combat UAVs start operating, and that will be by the end of the decade, there will be much pressure to let combat UAVs rule the skies, in addition to scouting and bombing. The senior Pentagon leadership have seen this future, and believe it is the real one. Many European, and Indian, aviation commanders agree.

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